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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The latest news coming out of Lake Charles regarding one of four state troopers charged with malfeasance and 74 counts of injuring public records is the defense offered up by his attorney, the same attorney who loves to file SLAPP lawsuits against a Welsh city alderman.

Oh, and there’s the revelation that former State Trooper Jimmy Rogers, who resigned in the middle of a Louisiana State Police (LSP) internal affairs investigation, still holds—or recently held—a commission from the DEQUINCY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Rogers attempted to return to LSP when he sent an email to Troop D Commander Benny Broussard on March 7 in which he (a) claimed he had resigned in “good standing,” and (b) said he would like to return to his former job. Ironically, in that email he said, “I was clear (sic) of every claim except altering times on tickets. I am guilty of writing times on tickets later than the stop actually was.”

Yeah, well, actually, those altered tickets are exactly what those 74 felony counts are all about and about which Calcasieu Parish DISTRICT ATTORNEY John DeRosier says he is “in the process of preparing formal charges.”

DeRosier said he was “going to assume that there’s a financial benefit” to Rogers’s practice of jotting an incorrect time on all those tickets ostensibly written while working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol. LACE is a cooperative program in which local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

The financial benefit to Rogers, at least theoretically, would be that he wrote his tickets early in his shift but put later times to make it appear he worked his entire shift when in reality, he would go home early after writing a few tickets. DeRosier might be taking that offense a little personally since it is his office that pays for those hours that Rogers is accused of not working.

But no matter. Rogers apparently has this captivating voice that should be sufficient to beat the rap. You see, according to his attorney, Ron Richard, Rogers is a man “who probably sang the national anthem at more events in this town than anyone else” and is confident “both in himself and his faith in God that he will be vindicated and all will be made right in the end.”

Good to know. But…but…but Rogers put it in writing back on March 7 that he was guilty of falsifying the times. Which brings up the obvious question: Will Richard have him sing the national anthem on the stand during his trial? Apparently, Richard thinks that is important.

This is the same attorney who filed a so-called SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation or, if you will, frivolous or harassment) LAWSUIT against Welsh Alderman Jacob Colby Perry on behalf of four separate clients—the Welsh mayor, her daughter, her son, and the town’s police chief.

They lost and had to pay Perry’s legal fees of some $16,000.

If convicted, Rogers could be facing up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000—on each count.

Now, Dequincy, about that Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement commission you issued to Rogers when you hired him as a reserve police officer….

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After literally dozens of stories by LouisianaVoice since 2014 about Louisiana State Police (LSP) problems through mismanagement from the top, it appears—finally—that matters may be coming to a head with Monday’s arrest of two current and two former state troopers a total of 98 counts of filing false public records, injuring public records, felony theft and malfeasance in office.

Along with the formal LSP news release announcing the four arrests, unconfirmed reports have former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson and his attorney involved in preliminary negotiations for a plea bargain on unspecified charges but believed to be connected to the October 2016 trip in which four troopers drove a state vehicle to a convention in San Diego via tourist stops in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

An official of the Metropolitan Crime Commission in New Orleans even voiced his belief that all the problems of LSP as reported on since 2014 by LouisianaVoice could be laid at the feet of one man: Edmonson.

While the latest arrests stem directly from a news story by New Orleans TV investigative reporter LEE ZURIK last November revealed state troopers were being paid for working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol that they in fact did not work, LouisianaVoice reported two years earlier that Rogers was falsifying records in connection to his LACE patrol. LACE is a cooperative program in which local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

In the end, of the 98 counts amassed by the four current and former troopers, 75 were lodged against Rogers. All the counts against the four were in connection to their work in the LACE program, the LSP PRESS RELEASE release said.

The two current state troopers were Master Trooper Daryl Thomas (two counts of filing false public records and one count of felony theft (greater than $15,000), and Wayne Taylor (14 counts of injuring public records and one count of malfeasance in office. Thomas, of New Orleans, currently makes $89,400 per year and Taylor, of Rapides Parish, earns $62,600 per year.

The two former troopers were Byron Sims, a $109,000-per-year polygraphist with 22 years’ experience before leaving LSP (four counts of filing false public records and one count of felony theft greater than $21,000), and Rogers (74 counts of injuring public records and one count of malfeasance in office.

FILING FALSE PUBLIC RECORDS, under Louisiana Title 14 is the filing of any forged or wrongfully-altered document or any document containing a false statement or false representation of a material fact.

INJURING PUBLIC RECORDS is the intentional falsification or concealment of any record or document filed in any public office or with any public officer.

Both are felonies.

Much of the legwork in bringing the charges against Rogers was done by the office of Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.

In Rogers’s case, an LSP INTERNAL AFFAIRS REPORT dated October 20, 2015 said he wrote tickets on his regular detail but putting a later date on the ticket to make it appear he had written it on his LACE detail when in fact he was not even working the LACE shift for which he was paid. Other times, he would put later times for his traffic stops to make it appear he had worked his entire detail when, in fact, he had not.

The IA investigation, provided to LouisianaVoice by the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, initially delved into only Rogers’s 2015 LACE overtime but when discrepancies were discovered, it was decided to expand the investigation to include 2013 and 2014 but then Rogers resigned, effective Nov. 6, 2015 and the investigation was terminated.

Inexplicably, Rogers had a change of heart and on March 7, 2017, sent an EMAIL to Troop D Commander Benny Broussard in which he (a) claimed he had resigned in “good standing,” and (b) said he would like to return to his former job. Ironically, in that email he said, “I was clear (sic) of every claim except altering times on tickets. I am guilty of writing times on tickets later than the stop actually was.”

The only logical reason for writing the wrong times was to cover up his absence from duty by writing driver citations for a small part of the beginning of his shift and then taking the rest of the day off.

One source told LouisianaVoice that Rogers and another former trooper, Ronnie Picou, should not have been able to disappear from their shifts if they had been under a proper level of supervision. “Most jobs have supervisors (who) would notice when someone is not there,” the source said. “Most police supervisors would care about their troopers and check on them if they disappeared. Most police supervisors believe their job is important and officers must be present to accomplish that important job.”

“They were not supervised by people who care about their officers or the citizens they serve. They were supervised by Lt. Paul Brady and Capt. Chris Guillory.

Brady helped popularize the coined term “Brady Days,” an unwritten policy that gave troopers time off for issuing DWI citations, which can encourage arrests of people who were not actually impaired. Brady supervised Picou who was initially fired after LouisianaVoice requested records on alleged payroll fraud. Brady supervised Picou when an LSP investigative report showed he was absent from duty much of the time.

Brady was suspended for reportedly ordering Troopers to claim more time than they worked. Those allegations were also discovered after LouisianaVoice made public records requests. Brady also supervised Rogers. Sources reported Picou and Rogers were able to shuck their duties under the supervision of Brady, leaving their fellow troopers and citizens abandoned.

LouisianaVoice has received reports that the allegations which led to the arrest of Rogers were known to LSP for years. Rogers was under the protection of Brady and Guillory, former Troop D Commander. Capt. Guillory reportedly has a position in Baton Rouge but he lives in Sulphur.

LSP knew about Rogers, Picou, Brady and Guillory and did nothing until forced by public exposure.

Instead, Edmonson, rather than take proactive measures to eliminate problems exposed in Troop D, went to considerable lengths to expose LouisianaVoice’s SOURCES–until it became painfully obvious that the primary problem was Edmonson.

Perhaps Anthony “Tony” Radosti, Vice-President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said it best when he told LouisianaVoice on Monday, “Jimmy Rogers was a symptom. Mike Edmonson was the disease.”

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Jefferson Davis Parish and the City of Jennings have for years now been the unwanted focus of national attention because of unsolved murders of eight (at least, some say there are more) prostitutes from 2005 to 2008.

Those murders are said to have been the inspiration for the TV show TRUE DETECTIVE.

Although author ETHAN BROWN, in his book Murder in the Bayou, as well as numerous national media stories is about the eight women, some sources say the number of UNSOLVED MURDERS in the parish is higher, that the actual number is at least 13 and also includes four male victims.

And while the eight female victims who have drawn so much media scrutiny since discovery of Necole Guillory nearly a decade ago were known drug users, it’s not insignificant to note that Brown claims that each also was a police informant.

Yet, while ROLLING STONE magazine, DR. OZ and others continue to devote considerable ink and camera time to the mystery, Jennings rolls along planning for Louisiana’s Most Beautiful City competition while seemingly ignoring areas of blighted abandoned houses in the city and burgeoning drug trafficking in those abandoned homes despite repeated warnings from one of its citizens.

That citizen, Christopher Lehman, is a retired Navy veteran and a retired federal civil service employee who upon moving to Jennings, served as a community services coordinator for the Jennings Police Department but was fired after making too much noise about open narcotics transactions on his street.

His dismissal has not deterred him from photographing suspected drug deals from vehicles and abandoned houses on his street and hitting the mayor’s office with a barrage of recorded incidents he feels were also narcotics transactions.

In fact, Lehman has combined several binders of photographs, reports and other information that he turned over to the city authorities. His warnings were consistently ignored.

Lehman, it seems, knew what he was talking about. Jennings police recently arrested 10 people in a major HEROIN BUST.

The Jennings Police Department chief, Todd D’Albor, recently resigned to take a similar position as leader of the newly-formed New Iberia Police Department.

That city, of course, has its own set of problems with a sheriff under fire and having escaped conviction on federal criminal charges brought against him in connection with the mistreatment of prisoners in his jail, including the deaths of some prisoners in his custody.

The most notorious case was that of a 20-year-old black male who authorities claimed managed to obtain a gun and shoot himself in the chest—while his hands were cuffed behind him.

The sheriff’s office took over patrol of New Iberia several years ago when the police department was disbanded because of a lack of city revenue with which to fund the department. Only after residents voted approval of $500,000 to reinstate the department last year was the department resurrected.

The vote to bring back the New Iberia city police department may have been prompted in part by the city’s VIOLENT CRIME RATE which runs far ahead of the state and national averages.

It’s uncertain if the New Iberia mayor and city council examined an audit report of the City of Jennings which said that D’Albor, while heading the Jennings Police Department, used public property for his personal use, used police department personnel to run personal errands, and that he stored personal property at city facilities against city policy.

All that might cause the casual observer to question why one city with a chronic crime problem would hire a police chief from a city where eight—or 13—unsolved murders continue to pose serious questions as to what is being done to solve the murders as well as to curtail open drug deals on the streets of a city that aspires to the title of Most Beautiful.

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JIM BROWN, Louisiana’s erstwhile legislator, secretary of state, gubernatorial candidate, state insurance commissioner and self-described victim of an over-zealous FBI HATCHET JOB, today has a radio talk show and publishes an Internet blog as well as dabbling in the BOOK-PUBLISHING business.

On May 6, Brown will turn 78 but as a former track star at the University of North Carolina (he was the first athlete recruited by the legendary Dean Smith), he has certainly shown no signs of slowing down.

But this isn’t about Jim Brown per se. It’s about a post by Brown that reminded me just how unfair American justice can be and how badly the FBI can screw up.

Even FBI directors and agents who screw up and are eventually promoted to director of the FBI.

Agents like James Comey and former Director Robert Mueller.

In the interest of full disclosure and as an open admission that I am not an “objective news reporter” by any stretch, I want to say it pains me greatly to write anything that puts Donald Trump, whom I detest with every fiber in my being, in a favorable light—even by comparison. I will add that I purchased Comey’s book and actually started reading it. But I put it down after a few pages of self-serving fluff about what a great kid he was growing up, how he was bullied, and how he rose above it all. It just seemed to be a little too me, me, me.

I know I will receive critical comments, and though I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, I remain firmly convinced that the accident of Donald Trump (elected with a substantial minority of popular votes) is the worst tragedy to befall this nation since the Civil War. By comparison, LBJ was a benevolent father figure, Nixon a saint, George W. Bush a towering intellect, and Bill Clinton a paragon of marital fidelity.

But here’s the thing, as Brown reminds us in his POST: Comey, abetted by his boss, then-FBI Director Mueller, literally ruined the life of an LSU professor a mere 16 years ago.

It all actually started in 2001. Mueller had been appointed FBI Director in July of that year by W. In a matter of days after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the first of several envelopes containing deadly anthrax were sent to NBC News, the New York Post and the publisher of The Sun and The National Enquirer tabloids. In October, two more such envelopes were received at the Senate offices of Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. In all, 17 persons fell ill and five died from anthrax inhalation.

It didn’t take long for fingers to start pointing (incorrectly) to an obscure medical doctor named Steven Hatfill who once had worked at the Army’s elite Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), which, coincidentally, had stocks of anthrax, according to a lengthy 2010 article in THE ATLANTIC, entitled simply, “The Wrong Man.”

Hatfill immediately became the central figure in a media circus and the FBI was happy to oblige the need to find a scapegoat for the anthrax letters. He was working at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a large defense contractor, from 1999 to 2002, where he was involved in developing a brochure for emergency personnel on ways in which to handle anthrax hoax letters.

He wasn’t surprised, then, when the FBI wanted to interview him for what he thought was the agency’s pursuit of foreign terrorists. He assumed that the FBI was routinely interviewing all scientists who had worked at USAMRIID.

It didn’t seem to matter to the FBI that anthrax is a bacterium and Hatfill was a virologist who never handled anthrax.

Investigators raided Hatfill’s girlfriend’s townhouse, telling her, “Your boyfriend killed five people.” He was fired from SAIC with the official explanation being that he had failed to maintain a necessary security clearance (a disqualification that would eliminate about half of Trump’s White House staff).

And here’s where the local angle comes in. He thought he’d landed on his feet when LSU hired him as the associate director of its new program designed to train firefighters and other emergency personnel to respond to terrorist acts and natural disasters. The pay ($150,000) was to be the same as he’d made at SAIC.

But Justice Department officials, in their desperation to nail Hatfill, told LSU to “cease and desist” from using him on any federally-funded program. Accordingly, he was fired before his first day on the job. Then other prospective jobs fell through. Like the anthrax he was suspected of sending, he became toxic. One job fell through his fingers like so much sand when he emerged from a meeting with prospective employers only to find FBI agents videotaping them.

For two years, his friends were interrogated, his phone was tapped, surveillance cameras recorded his every move. (Comey recently said in his ABC-TV interview with George Stephanopoulos that if an FBI agent can’t put his investigation together in 18 months, he should be fired.)

The FBI brought in two bloodhounds from California whose handlers insisted the dogs could sniff the scent of the killer on the anthrax letters—never mind that sniffing the letters would have been lethal to the animals. When Hatfill petted the dogs, their handlers said the dogs responded “favorably,” proof that Hatfill was the killer.

If the FBI had shown even a fraction of investigative professionalism in the dog handlers’ backgrounds as they had in Hatfill’s, they might well have sent the handlers—and their dogs—packing. Defendants in California who had been convicted on the basis of the dogs’ behavior were later exonerated. In one case, a judge called the dog handlers “as biased as any witness that this court has ever seen.”

But Mueller was infatuated with the dog evidence, however, personally assuring Attorney General John Ashcroft that they had their man. Comey, asked if Hatfill might be another Richard Jewell (the Atlanta security guard wrongly accused of the Olympics bombing), was just as adamant, saying he was “absolutely certain” there was no mistake.

Well, as we all know by now, Hatfill was innocent.

Mueller and Comey’s certainty that he was the anthrax killer eventually cost the Justice Department nearly $6 million in a LEGAL SETTLEMENT. Refusing to attend the press conference announcing the resolution of the case, Mueller was less than contrite about ruining an innocent man’s life. Responding later to reporters’ questions, he said, “I do not apologize for any aspect of the investigation. He added that it would be erroneous “to say there were mistakes.”

But, Mr. Mueller…there were mistakes. There was incompetence. There was recklessness. Most of all, there was a total lack of concern for an innocent man’s life—all for the benefit of advancing the careers of ambitious men too caught up in their own careers to think of the impact their actions might have on another’s livelihood.

As much as I loathe Trump and all he stands for, I fervently hope that Mueller—and by extension, Comey—haven’t traveled down that same path in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

And last of all, but certainly not least, thanks to Jim Brown for reminding us of a dark chapter in LSU’s history, a chapter in which there should be everlasting shame, one that ranks right alongside that of the sorry saga Ivor Von Heerden’s firing over his criticism of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following Hurricane Katrina (it turned out his criticisms were dead-on)—neither of which should ever be forgotten.

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If you are unfortunate enough to become the victim of a crime, you wouldn’t want to compound your problems by having it occur in Iberia Parish.

The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, it seems, has problems keeping up with its investigative records.

What’s more, there seems to be a problem maintaining a consistent explanation as to why a record is no longer available.

But then, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is not exactly the model you want to hold up as a model of efficiency, forthrightness, or competence.

Take the 2006 murder of Jamon Rogers, for example.

Ricardo Irvin entered a GUILTY PLEA in 2009 to the killing, that much is known.

But when a freelance writer recently made a routine request for the file on the investigation of the killing he was told:

  • The sheriff’s office’s computer was hacked last August and the records are no longer accessible;
  • If you want the record, you’ll have to get a subpoena.

Well, of course that raised the obvious question of how would a subpoena help if the records were hacked and are “no longer accessible”?

Somehow, those two explanations just don’t reconcile.

It’s similar to the old joke about the lawyer’s answer to a lawsuit that his dog bit a man walking past his office:

  • My dog doesn’t bite;
  • I keep my dog inside a fence;
  • I don’t own a dog.

But that’s nothing new for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

After all, in March 2014, Victor White III was stopped by Iberia Parish deputies who said they found marijuana and cocaine on his person. He was placed in a deputy’s patrol car, his hands cuffed behind his back. But while cuff, deputies said, he somehow managed (a) to get a gun and (b) to commit suicide by shooting himself…in the chest.

Lloyd Grafton of Ruston, an expert retained by the White family, said the entry wound was more to the right side than frontal area and that the bullet exited from White’s left side. “There is no way he could have shot himself the way they (officials) described it, with his hands cuffed behind his back,” Grafton said.

Grafton isn’t your typical hired gun retained by attorneys to say whatever supports their case. He is a veteran of twenty-one years as a special agent for the Justice Department’s U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and with the U.S. Treasury as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He has what is commonly known as street creds.

Last month, Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal quietly settled a federal lawsuit brought by White’s family. As has become a trend in civil lawsuits, terms of the settlement were sealed and White’s family was prohibited by a confidentiality clause from disclosing the settlement amount.

Word is, the settlement was paid from sheriff’s department funds and not by an insurance carrier because Ackal’s liability policy was cancelled because of either unaffordable premiums because of repeated violations of basic rights or because no insurance company wants anything to do with providing coverage for the department.

But then again, maybe the department’s policy was simply lost in that massive computer “hacking” last August.

Pursuant to the puzzling response to the freelance writer, LouisianaVoice made an identical request for the investigation records under terms of the Public Records Act of Louisiana (R.S. 44:1 et seq.).

The response this time came from someone named Steve Elledge, general counsel for the sheriff’s office:

“According to the records custodian at the Bureau of Investigations, that investigation case file cannot be located,” read the terse email from Elledge on Wednesday. “Therefore, we are unable to comply with your public records request.”

We couldn’t resist being a bit flippant over what looks from our vantage point as a deliberate effort to avoid compliance with state law:

“You’ve ‘lost’ the file on a murder investigation? Really? Your office yesterday informed another person making the same request that (a) the sheriff’s office records were ‘hacked’ and therefore unavailable and (b) if he wanted the record he would have to get a subpoena. My question is how would a subpoena help if the records were hacked and unavailable?

“When did this ‘hacking’ occur and why was nothing ever publicized about it? There were no news stories about the records being hacked.

“Convenient, to say the least. I wonder if a court order might make them reappear?”

There has been no further correspondence between LouisianaVoice and the sheriff’s office.

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