Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is feeling the heat after a crawfish to whom he granted a reprieve from being boiled alive allegedly went on to commit a series of violent crimes.
The Republican ceremoniously pardoned the mudbug, known only by his street name Emile, on March 7 at a New Orleans event sponsored by the spice company Zatarain’s. Emile was slated to be executed in the boiling pot with hundreds of his close associates, but Nungesser took it upon himself to become the first Louisiana statewide-elected official ever to formally absolve a crawfish from his salty, spicy, scalding fate.
Just moments after being released by Wildlife and Fisheries agents in Westwego’s Bayou Segnette State Park, authorities say, Emile carjacked a motorist on Louisiana Street near the Westbank Expressway, proceeded to cross the Huey P. Long Bridge, and drove to Audubon Park. Once there, the crustacean abandoned the stolen car and assaulted a passing pedestrian, robbing her of her jewelry and approximately $50 in cash, an NOPD spokesman said.
Police believe Emile is still at large in the city and has been involved in the commission of no less than two dozen separate, violent crimes — including armed robbery, aggravated assault, and attempted murder — since being pardoned by Nungesser.
“Less than a week after Emile was released into Bayou Segnette State Park, a tourist reported a crawfish matching Emile’s description held him and his wife at clawpoint in the French Quarter and demanded he surrender his wallet and jewelry, as well as his wife’s purse and jewelry,” NOPD communications director Beau Tidwell stated. “When the man hesitated, the crawfish grabbed the back of his wife’s ankle and threatened to snap her Achilles tendon if they failed to immediately meet his demands. Fortunately, they were able to avoid any serious injury by complying with the crawfish.”
In the wake of Emile’s reported crime spree, Nungesser has been under fire for absolving the crawfish from the seething cauldron. The former Plaquemines Parish president’s judgment has been called into question by numerous area and state leaders, including New Orleans Mayor — and former lieutenant governor — Mitch Landrieu.
“We can’t afford to be soft on criminals, especially ones with exoskeletons.”
“What the hell was he thinking when he pardoned that thug?” Landrieu asked. “The lieutenant governor is in charge of recreation, tourism, and promoting the state’s culture. That’s it. He doesn’t have legal authority to pardon anyone or anything and turn them loose to terrorize the state’s largest city.”
The Democrat is using the situation to counter claims by some Republicans — most notably, Attorney General Jeff Landry — that Landrieu and the NOPD are too lenient on people suspected of illegal activities.
“Billy Nungesser and the rest of his party need to realize we can’t afford to be soft on criminals, especially ones with exoskeletons. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re bought and paid for by the big spice lobby,” Landrieu stated, alluding to Zatarain’s sponsorship of the pardoning.
While Nungesser is simmering in political hot water, authorities are in hot pursuit of the crawfish he permitted to escape literal hot water.
Tidwell said officers with NOPD and troopers with State Police have set up crawfish traps around the city in hopes of apprehending Emile. While they’ve captured numerous rodents and the hands of a few hungry vagrants, they have yet to snag their intended prey.