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The Weathers Report Exclusive:

During the height of the chaos in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman apparently evacuated the city and checked into the honeymoon suite of the Best Western Houma in Gray, Louisiana, The Weathers Report has learned.

After the hurricane, according to eyewitness reports in the Times-Picayune, inmates at the Orleans Parish Prison set fires, breached walls and jumped from smashed windows into more than six feet of water. At least 14 prisoners evidently escaped, including a murder suspect who was subsequently captured and booked on new murder charges. According to the ACLU’s website, deputies deserted the prison en masse, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells. Prisoners then reportedly broke windows and either leapt out or set fire to pieces of clothing and held them outside the windows to signal to rescuers. They apparently spent days without power, food or water, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests or necks.

On Gusman’s campaign website – he faces re-election next month – attorney general and former criminal sheriff Charles Foti gushes on Gusman: “He stayed his post, in command, with no regard for his safety, and displayed great strength and calm during a crisis.” Yet a hotel statement obtained by The Weathers Report shows Gusman, or at least someone using his identity, checked into the hotel on September 2, only four days after the storm, and remained a hotel guest with three others for four nights.

Gusman’s sole opponent in his re-election bid, lawyer Gerald DeSalvo, is making the problems at the jail during the aftermath of the hurricane a key issue in the upcoming election. The election is April 22.