All seven men were arraigned on Monday. Judge Perry Nicosia set their bonds between $75,000 and $450,00. Authorities said the men admit breaking in to the plantation on Friday evening to smoke marijuana, drink alcohol, and look for ghosts. St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said the ghost hunters eventually made “a conscious decision” to burn down the LaBeau Plantation.
The historic plantation is located in Arabi, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. The home was built by Franciose Barthelemy LeBeau in 1851. It took three years to finish construction of the sixteen-room home. Although LeBeau passed away within months of the home’s completion, it remained in the family for the next 50 years.
Following its sale in 1905, the plantation was used as a hotel and a notorious illegal casino. The plantation changed hands several times until 1980, when it was abandoned. As reported by Old-New-Orleans.com,
The ghost hunters were likely drawn to the historic LaBeau Plantation as it is reportedly haunted. Locals report seeing lights inside the home, despite the fact that it has no electricity.
Fox News reports the plantation is currently owned by the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Foundation. In an official statement, the foundation said they are “deeply saddened by the loss of one of [the] community’s most beloved treasures."
Foundation president Rita Gue said the property is enclosed with a fence. The doors and windows were also boarded up to deter trespassing. She said they simply could not afford “24-hour patrols.”
Officials said a majority of the ghost hunters worked as door-to-door salesmen. Some of the men were still wearing their Circulation Marketing Inc. shirts when they were arrested for burning down the LaBeau Plantation.