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Archive for the ‘Prison’ Category

After all the negative publicity about former Angola Warden Burl Cain, Thursday’s news release was almost enough to restore your faith in the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

That is, until you peel back the layers and take a deeper look beneath the typical hype that regularly comes out of state agencies in order to put them in the best light.

Like almost everything political, Rule One is follow the money. Rule Two is see Rule One.

The glowing news release trumpeted the news that auditors from the American Correctional Association (ACA) had given “high marks” to three Louisiana correctional facilities.

The release touted the 100 percent grades in mandatory standards attained by Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, David C. Knapps correctional Officer Training Academy, and Raymond Laborde Correctional Center. Knapps also received a 100 percent rating in non-mandatory standards and Angola and Laborde each received 93 percent in non-mandatory standards.

“ACA audits are done every three years. Other Louisiana state prisons not audited during this cycle will be re-audited in future cycles,” the news release concluded.

But what is accreditation from ACA really worth?

And how much did Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc pay for the favorable ratings?

The likely answers to those questions are, in order: not much and plenty.

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/aca.html

LouisianaVoice, almost three years to the day (Oct. 11, 2013) published harsh criticisms of ACA’s methods of accreditation.

In 2010, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) trumpeted the re-accreditation of five of its private prisons by ACA. But what CCA did not reveal was that it had paid ACA more than $22,000 for those five accreditations, that CCA employees serve as ACA auditors, that CCA is a major sponsor of ACA events or worse, and that accredited CCA facilities had experienced major security problems.

The ACA relies heavily on such fees; it reported receiving more than $4.5 million in accreditation fees in 2011 – almost half its total revenue that year. The organization thus has a financial incentive to provide as many accreditations as possible.

Notably, the accreditation process is basically a paper review. The ACA does not provide oversight or ongoing monitoring of correctional facilities, but only verifies whether a facility has policies that comply with the ACA’s self-promulgated standards at the time of accreditation. Following initial accreditation, facilities are re-accredited at three-year intervals.

But how do the courts view ACA accreditation – and comparable accreditation of prison and jail medical services by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) – both in terms of claims alleging violations of accreditation standards and as a defense by prison officials?

The U.S. Supreme Court noted in Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 543 n.27 (1979) that accreditation does not determine constitutionality. With respect to standards established by organizations such as the American Correctional Association, the Court wrote: “[W]hile the recommendations of these various groups may be instructive in certain cases, they simply do not establish the constitutional minima; rather, they establish goals recommended by the organization in question.” https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2014/oct/10/how-courts-view-aca-accreditation/

The standards are established by the ACA with no oversight by government agencies, and the organization basically sells accreditation by charging fees ranging from $8,100 to $19,500, depending on the number of days and auditors involved and the number of facilities being accredited.

Perhaps it is only coincidence that LeBlanc is a member of the ACA’s Commission on Accreditation for Corrections  (go to the second page of this link) or that Burl Cain is still listed as a member of ACA’s Executive Committee.

One of ACA’s past presidents, Richard Stalder, while serving as Louisiana State Corrections Secretary in 1993, canceled spending on psychiatric counseling for troubled teens so that he could give out $2.7 million in raises to his staff, according to New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Jack Wardlaw.

In 1998, the new Jena Juvenile Center came under fire for widespread problems, including a near-riot, poor teaching and security and physical abuse and in 1999 the juvenile facility in Tallulah was taken under state control after five years of repeated problems with private ownership despite its having received accreditation and a positive report only six months earlier from ACA and Stalder.

By 1995, the ACA accredited all 12 prisons in Louisiana, passing the last two with a 100 scores. That year, more than 125 prisoners sued Stalder for mistreatment within the prisons. Meanwhile, only a month after Angola prison of Louisiana was accredited, it was reported that around $32 million were needed for repairs so the prison could meet safety requirements, according to Baton Rouge Advocate reporter James Minton.

Stalder rejected all the claims, saying that he and his staff deserved “a pat on the back,” but in June of 1995, Federal Judge Frank Polozola criticized Stalder for the way in which he ran the state prison system.

“Louisiana incarcerates a higher proportion of our citizens than almost any other state,” Stalder said in 1995. “Yet we continue to be frustrated by the reality that many violent and dangerous people who should be locked up are not.”

Later that year, a doctor and a nurse reported severe problems with medical treatment at Angola. Prisoners with fractures were splinted, and then not seen for months, leading to bone deformities. Air from a tuberculosis ward was drawn into the main infirmary. A Justice Department report also found the prison’s medical records to be in terrible shape, according to Advocate reporter Fred Kalmbach.

In June of 1995, Judge Frank Polozola was critical of Stalder for his efforts to hold more inmates in the parish and private prisons of Louisiana, suggesting that Stalder was doing so in order to receive more money from the state government, which pays the sheriffs $21 per day per inmate in a private or parish prison, Minton wrote.

Polozola accused Stalder of catering to Louisiana’s sheriffs by refusing to allow state prisoners, who were supposed to be in the private prisons only temporarily, to return to the state prisons.

Just months later, Stalder was in trouble again when he allowed a can relabeling plant to open illegally at the Angola Prison. He was fined $500. Inmate William Kissinger, a legal adviser to other inmates, then sued Stalder for $600,000 after he reported the relabeling plant to authorities and was consequently removed from Angola prison and put on a prison farm.

The prison at Angola, meanwhile, received the same score from the ACA in 1996 as it did when it was first accredited in 1993.

Although the Louisiana state juvenile facilities attracted attention during 1997 for reports of abuse from guards at the facilities, Stalder himself was not in the spotlight until a private investigator found evidence that Stalder had allowed a priest who had been imprisoned for child molestation to receive special treatment at Wade correctional facility while Stalder was a warden there.

Because Jena’s goal was to meet the accreditation standards, The ACA was also criticized and characterized as “not highly respected…they will judge a facility on whether they have policies and procedures in written form,” wrote Times-Picayune reporter Steve Ritea.

http://www.prisonsucks.com/ACA/ACAofficers.html

We can’t wait ACA’s re-audit of the other state prisons.

Any bets on what those scores will be?

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A couple of weeks ago, LouisianaVoice revealed that convicted Ponzi scheme operator Steven Hoffenberg had established a super PAC for the benefit of Donald Trump and had pledged $50 million of his own money to the effort to raise $1 billion on behalf of the presumed Republican nominee. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/06/21/operator-of-1990s-ponzi-scheme-outed-by-ruston-newspaper-re-surfaces-quarter-century-later-as-major-trump-fund-raiser/

Many north Louisiana residents were victimized by his scam before John Hays and his Morning Paper in Ruston outed Hoffenberg for what he was—a snake oil salesman. Now he’s out of jail and his story just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser as we plunge deeper into that rabbit hole.

Hoffenberg, who bilked investors out of about $475 million, the largest Ponzi scheme on record at the time B.B.M. (before Bernie Madoff), appears to have made a strong rebound and the cast of players also has expanded to include his former high-rolling business partner, child trafficking, a “Christian” credit card scheme, movie stars, a prince, and Bill Clinton.

LouisianaVoice has since learned that though he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and ordered to make restitution, he has repaid only about $200 million to investors whose savings he wiped out. He even claimed in 1996 that he was too destitute to post $100,000 bail.

So how is it that after serving 18 years of that sentence, he (a) now has $50 million to toss at Trump and (b) why haven’t authorities ordered that money to go into a pool to repay investors?

As with most questions of a rhetorical nature, there are no clear-cut answers. There is no black or white, only varying shades of gray. Facts, accusations and outright lies become so intertwined that it becomes virtually impossible to separate one from another in trying to make sense of it all.

If you listen to Hoffenberg today, you get the idea he is doing his dead-level best to make his investors whole, a seemingly benevolent gesture to be sure. Incredibly, he still heads Towers Investors, the company through which he ran his Ponzi scheme from the late 1970s until 1993. The corporation’s Web page includes this MESSAGE:

Today, that same Web site attempts to shift the blame for the bilking of 200,000 individuals of their savings to fellow wealthy Wall Street prodigy Jeffrey Epstein who Hoffenberg now says is the one who ran the pyramid scheme through his Towers Investors company.

Typically, Hoffenberg says on his Web page that “authorities figured out what was happening” with his gigantic scam. It seems he still cannot bring himself to admit that a small town newspaper publisher was the one who “figured out” what was going on and ultimately was the one who brought the scheme crashing down, sending Hoffenberg to a federal lockup for 18 years in the process. Hays, as we pointed out in our story last month, won awards for his work on the story and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

So who is Jeffrey Epstein and how does he figure in the Hoffenberg-Trump-Clinton saga? A former school teacher, he worked for six years at the Wall Street banking firm Bear Stearns before launching his own financial investing firm in 1982.

The London Daily Mail on May 29, published an exclusive story that detailed the complicated partnership between Epstein and Hoffenberg, Hoffenberg’s $1 billion lawsuit that accuses Epstein of running the Ponzi scheme through Hoffenberg’s company, Towers Financial Corporation.

When Hoffenberg was first charged, prosecutors tried to offer him a reduced sentence in exchange for information about Epstein and his part in the scam but Hoffenberg refused at the time to cooperate.

Epstein, meanwhile, continued to live large. He owns a luxury townhouse in Manhattan, an $11 million mansion in Pam Beach, Florida, and a private island in the Virgin Islands. He current resides in the Virgin Islands, according to the Florida sex offenders’ registry.

Sex registry? Just when you think this story couldn’t get any more salacious, it does.

In unrelated legal action, two unidentified women are claiming they were sexually abused by Epstein in the early 2000s when they were teens. They said he made them into sex slaves and passed them on to his friends. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article5342709.html

In 2008, Epstein was accused of sending staff members to recruit underage high school girls in West Pam Beach to travel to his mansion to provide massages and sex. His legal defense team included Alan Derchowitz, Roy Black and Kenneth Starr. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/03/25/jeffrey-epstein-how-the-billionaire-pedophile-got-off-easy.html

Starr became a household name with his report that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Starr would then go on to become head of Baylor University but ironically was forced to step down over his handling of a sex scandal at the Baptist school that also brought down the school’s football coach. Black is best known as the attorney who defended William Kennedy Smith against rape charges in Palm Beach.

The three lawyers negotiated the deal of the century, prompting speculation that Epstein benefitted from his high-level social and political contacts. Those included actors Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker and Woody Allen, Prince Andrew, and Bill Clinton, who used Epstein’s Boeing 727, The Lolita Express, on at least two dozen occasions. http://www.dailywire.com/news/5749/both-trump-and-clinton-went-jeffrey-epsteins-sex-amanda-prestigiacomo

Not even a prestigious publication like Newsweek could resist the temptation of covering the Epstein-Clinton-Prince Andrew connection in January 2015. http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/06/sex-offender-who-mixes-princes-and-premiers-302877.html

Epstein’s 2008 plea agreement revealed that prosecutors suspected him of abusing up to 40 underage girls but gave him a secret plea bargain in lieu of prosecuting him. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3364381/Notorious-billionaire-pedophile-ex-bestie-Prince-Andrew-Jeffrey-Epstein-hugs-squeezes-bum-one-young-blonde-escapes-New-York-Caribbean-holiday-beauty.html

As a sidebar to all this sleazy mess, Law Newz, an online legal news service, reported on Monday (July 4) that Trump himself is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Epstein’s presence in 1994.

In the Doe v. Donald J. Trump federal civil case, a witness statement is attached to the lawsuit in which the alleged witness claims to have “personally witnessed the plaintiff being forced to perform various sexual acts with Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein were advised that she was 13 years old.”

The witness statement went on to say, “I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.” http://lawnewz.com/celebrity/why-isnt-anyone-paying-attention-to-the-sexual-assault-lawsuit-against-trump/

Of course, so-called witnesses can—and often do—say things under oath that are far removed from the truth. LouisianaVoice is in no position to authenticate or refute the claims but the fact that they are now part of court record gives them added significance. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3564767/Donald-Trump-furiously-denies-woman-s-claims-raped-tycoon-billionaire-pedophile-Jeffrey-Epstein-s-sex-parties.html

Thrown into the mix of this bizarre story is Hoffenberg’s latest scheme, the “Christ Card,” a special “Christian” credit card being peddled to churches across the U.S. “The Christ Card holders have the benefit of gaining discounts in all of their purchases under the walk in grace serving out Lord Jesus Christ as customers and as our partners in faith, in our Christ Card family,” says Hoffenberg’s pitch on his Towers Investors Group Web page. http://towersinvestors.com/portfolio-view/christ-card/

Hoffenberg claims to have been converted to Christianity while serving time for cheating investors and now he’s pushing an idea that has spawned numerous scams—Christian debt. This, of course, is not say his promotion is another scam but he does have the pedigree as one who preys on others’ and as one ready, willing and able to lighten unsuspecting victims’ wallets.

He claims to have already completed the negotiation phase for the marketing of the card to more than 700,000 registered Christian churches in the U.S., according to another Web page of WHAM, Inc. http://whaminc.us/investor-questions-wham-answers

That number dwarfs the number of investor he bilked with his Ponzi scheme back in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. In WHAM’s post of only three weeks ago, Hoffenberg was quoted as saying, “Towers Investors/ WHAM INC Steven Hoffenberg anticipate completion and delivery of the Christ Credit Card to the end users within the next 90 days. This multi-year endeavor by Steven Hoffenberg will change the entire financial picture for WHAM investors.” http://whaminc.us/

So what is WHAM, Inc. and how does it figure in all of this? Well, according to Globe Newswire’s Web posting of Feb. 8, 2016, WHAM acquired 100 percent of all stock owned by Hoffenberg’s New York Post Publishing (not to be confused with Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, previously run briefly by Hoffenberg—got it?), Christ Credit and the trademarks of Christ Donations, Christ Faith Card com., and a few other enterprises run by Hoffenberg—including the “billions of dollars in the Jeffrey Epstein contract with Towers investor victims.” Epstein, the Globe Newswire post says, was Hoffenberg’s “best friend and former partner.” https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/02/08/808616/0/en/Additional-Details-Regarding-WHAM-INC-Collection-of-Jeffrey-Epstein-s-Billions-for-the-Towers-Investor-Victims.html

But given the Hoffenberg-Epstein relationship, the Epstein-Clinton ties, and the Hoffenberg-Trump connection (Hoffenberg’s latest marriage to his publishing company president was performed just outside Trump Towers where Hoffenberg maintains his offices), we can’t help be intrigued at this sordid story.

HOFFENBERG WEDDING PARTY

The Hoffenberg wedding party outside Trump Towers (from left to right: Associate Publisher of Post Publishing Flo Anthony, Post Publisher and the new Mrs. Hoffenberg, Maria Santiago, Hoffenberg, best man Steven Jude, pastor Copper Cunningham, and video photographer, identity unknown).

And given that Hoffenberg was first ratted out for swindling Louisiana residents by a north Louisiana publisher, we feel it newsworthy to monitor developments in these interconnected stories as they occur.

And whether subsequent events adversely affect any Republicans or Democrats who might be stupid enough to be caught up in this tangled web of deceit is immaterial to us. Any association with Hoffenberg or Epstein—either by Trump or the Clintons—cannot possible be in the best interests of the average American citizen.

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An important legal breakthrough for anyone in Ouachita and Morehouse parishes facing prosecution for drugs and/or weapons charges: your charges will be dismissed if you sweat.

So says no less an authority than 4th Judicial District Attorney Jerry L. Jones.

According to Jones, if you are a grave digger, a landscaper, bricklayer, carpenter, roofer, highway construction worker, or anyone involved in a myriad of occupations and endeavors that result in your exposure to sun and sweat, you are good to go with illegal weapons or the drug of your choice.

Hell, even if you’re a jogger, a tennis player, or an Alabama Crimson Tide football player, you get a free pass on drugs and weapons charges. Like fishing in the hot sun? Grilling out on July 4 is certain to get those sweat pores working overtime. But don’t worry. By the newly defined legal standards of the 4th JDC District Attorney’s office, sweat is like a Get Out of Jail Free card in the real-live game of Monopoly.

Did you break a sweat trying to chase the garbage collector down the street in your robe because you were a little late taking out the trash? Don’t worry about it. Both you and the garbage collector are good to go; you’re both outside, working up a sweat while Jones is in his air-conditioned office. Light up, wave that gun around, do a line. Together. Jones won’t prosecute. He said so himself.

This is the logic Jones himself expressed in dismissing charges against two Alabama football players who happen to call the Monroe area home.

All-Southeastern Conference offensive tackle Cam Robinson of West Monroe and reserve defensive back Laurence “Hootie” Jones of Monroe were arrested after a Monroe police officer smelled marijuana coming from their parked car in a closed public park. The officer spotted a handgun in Jones’ lap. A search of the car produced marijuana and a handgun that had been reported stolen in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Baldwin County is immediately east of Mobile County and includes the cities of Gulf Shores, Foley, Loxley and Orange Beach.

Prosecutor Neal Johnson of the DA’s office first said there was insufficient evidence in court documents to proceed with charges. Hence, there would be no grand jury and no bill of information from the DA’s office. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/somehow–bizarre-and-clumsy-handling-of-alabama-players-could-be-justice-001548496-ncaaf.html

Had Jones let it go at that, the decision not to prosecute probably would have received little attention. After all, who better to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial than prosecutors themselves?

But Jones, inflicted with a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth, just couldn’t shut up when shutting up would have been the prudent path to follow.

“I want to emphasize once again,” he told KNOE-TV in Monroe, “that the main reason I’m doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years working and sweating while we were all in the air conditioning.” (Emphasis added). http://theadvocate.com/news/16165207-65/report-da-drops-drug-weapons-charges-against-alabama-football-players-louisiana-natives-cam-robinson

So there you have it. You work and sweat and Jones will look the other way. Hell, you might even be allowed to rob a bank except that’s a federal offense over which Jones has no authority. So, instead, go knock over a convenience store. Just make sure you’re sweating when you do so.

Unanswered (unasked, actually) was the obvious question: How many persons has Jones prosecuted on similar drugs and weapons charges who did not happen to be members of a big-time collegiate football program?

How many non-football-playing black kids from Monroe’s low-income, unemployed population are housed in the Ouachita Correctional Center for the sin of being caught with a single marijuana cigarette?

Well, an Internet post on the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Web page in August 2012 lists the results of the Ouachita Parish Task Force seizures:

  • 4 ounces of marijuana;
  • 13 marijuana cigarettes;
  • 60 one-eighth-ounce bags of marijuana;
  • Three quarter-ounce bags of marijuana;

Just last week, A West Monroe man (gasp) drove through a private parking lot to avoid a stop sign. He gave officers his consent to search his backpack and a vitamin bottle was found to contain “one to two grams” of marijuana and a marijuana smoking pipe. He was booked into the correctional center.

http://www.hannapub.com/ouachitacitizen/news/crime/wmpd-traffic-stop-leads-to-marijuana-arrest/article_ca8ba618-3758-11e6-a833-b784638b4c68.html

In 2014, Bernard Noble, 48, was sentenced to 13 years of hard labor for possession of the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. Neither Noble nor the West Monroe man played football and probably did not sweat until they were arrested. http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2014/04/louisianan-given-13-year-prison-sentence-possession-two-marijuana-cigarettes

We stumbled across an online report that admittedly, is rather dated but interesting nonetheless. In 2007, there were 18,535 arrests for marijuana offenses in Louisiana. That represents an arrest rate of 432 per 100,000, which ranks Louisiana at number 5 in the nation.

http://www.drugscience.org/States/LA/LA.pdf

(We have to keep those private prisons occupied for their owners somehow.)

While we’re in no position to challenge Johnson’s contention of insufficient evidence, Jones’s justification for not prosecuting the two is certainly sufficient reason for demanding his resignation and disbarment. No one, not even an idiot like Jones, should be able to use sweat as a barometer for deciding whether or not to enforce the law with a blind eye to social status or celebrity.

In the case of Jones and the 4th JDC District Attorney’s office, justice isn’t blind; it’s stoned—stoned on the deranged notion that certain among us are above the law.

 

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Sometimes you just have to wonder what thought process is employed in the making of incredibly bad decisions.

Take, for example, recent events at the Union Parish Detention Center in Farmerville.

What transpired there in mid-April is incompetence at best and criminal at worst.

The Ruston Daily Leader reported on Tuesday, May 3, that a convicted rapist was admitted into an isolation cell where a 17-year-old girl thought to be high on meth was being held and that he raped the girl twice.

Demarcus Shavez Peyton, 28, of Homer, is being held in the detention center until his scheduled sentencing in Claiborne Parish after his conviction of aggravated rape in that parish.

Union Parish deputies confirmed that the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office had told them that Peyton is known as a serial rapist and that he had been convicted of aggravated rape.

Yet, on April 19, he was allowed inside an isolation cell with the teen after she was booked into the detention center, reportedly high on meth.

An arrest affidavit reported that Peyton admitted to authorities that a detention center staff member opened the isolation cell door for him to enter and again when he was ready to leave. He further admitted to twice having sex with the victim while inside the cell.

A detention center nurse confirmed that the girl was under the influence of meth both at the time of her arrest and when she was raped. And while the victim said she could not remember much of the incident because of the meth influence, she did say that at one time during the encounter, a female guard walked up to the cell and opened the door but did nothing. She said she did not cry out for fear of her life.

As if all that were not egregious enough, Union Parish detectives said that Peyton wrote a letter to the victim following the rape telling her that she could possibly be carrying his child.

The name of the detention center staffer who allowed Peyton into the isolation cell with the girl was not immediately provided.

The Union Parish Detention Center is a public-run facility overseen by an operation committee composed of District Attorney John Belton, Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates, the Union Parish Police Jury and the Farmerville Police Chief.

No employee of the sheriff’s office or the district attorney is involved in the day-to-day operations of the jail, the Daily Leader quoted officials as saying.

While this is old news in the strictest terms of current events, this entire episode warrants a thorough investigation—and not just by the local DA and the sheriff’s office. This is an inexcusable tragedy that should be investigated by the Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana Attorney General’s office.

Normally, the attorney general does not intervene in local matters but because the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s office is one of those charged with oversight of the detention center, Belton’s office should recuse itself from the investigation immediately—as should the sheriff’s office—and an outside investigation initiated.

This is far too serious a screw-up to be left to local officials. It would amount to their investigating themselves.

One issue not addressed by local media is the existence or non-existence of video surveillance cameras. There should certainly be surveillance cameras in place that might reveal who the detention staff member was who opened the door to the isolation cell to allow Peyton access to the helpless teenager. Surveillance video might even show if that person stood by the door until Peyton was ready to exit. Video, if it exists, should also reveal the identity of the female staffer who opened the cell door during the assault but did nothing. Was it the same person who allowed Peyton into the cell?

Too many questions to be left to the locals. It was a local screw-up of monumental proportions that screams out for an independent investigation.

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As much as we would love to take credit, the three-count federal indictment of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and Lt. Col. Gerald Savoy was in the works long before our initial story on March 2. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/02/iberia-sheriff-burning-hotter-than-tobasco-on-a-fever-blister-after-beatings-deaths-political-payoffs-fight-with-reporters/

Our story, after all, was about one incident, that god-awful video of the deputy beating a prisoner and then turning a vicious dog loose on the man as he lay on the floor helpless to defend himself.

There were others, in the prison chapel, of all places, because there were no video surveillance there.

If the charges contained in the grand jury indictment are true, Ackal would have to be considered something of a sadist with a penchant for meting out—or at least condoning—particularly harsh punishment to black prisoners. http://www.katc.com/story/31430512/iberia-sheriff-indicted-for-their-parts-i

In a related issue, Roberta Boudreaux has yet to receive a response from the Louisiana Board of Ethics over her official complaint against Ackal. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/03/between-beating-guilty-pleas-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-and-ethics-complaint-iberia-sheriff-louis-ackal-has-his-plate-full/

Ackal defeated Boudreaux in the general election last November after giving a job to the third place finisher who subsequently endorsed him for re-election—the second consecutive election in which he hired the third place finisher in exchange for an endorsement in the general election. Giving anything of value in exchange for a political endorsement is against state law.

Boudreaux, contacted by LouisianaVoice, said it has been 60 days since she lodged the ethics complaint but the commission has been strangely silent in its response. That apparently is the legacy left us in Bobby Jindal’s “gold standard of ethics” about which he was so quick to boast in his ludicrous quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

“This is a sad day for law enforcement and for Iberia Parish,” Boudreaux said, adding that it was her understanding that there will be “more to follow” she said, adding, “I just hope the good guys at the department stick around.”

LouisianaVoice will continue to monitor the Ethics Commission to determine if it is actually staffed by warm bodies or Jindalesque see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys.

But back to the INDICTMENT, which brings to 10 current and former Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office (IPSO) employees who have been charged in the federal investigation of the department.

It was the plan and purpose of the conspiracy that Ackal, deputies and supervisors “would punish and retaliate against inmates and pre-trial detainees by taking them to the chapel of the (Iberia Parish Jail), where there were no video surveillance cameras, to unlawfully assault them,” the indictment said. “It was further part of the agreement that the officers and supervisors who witnessed these unlawful assaults would not intervene to stop them.”

The document charged that deputy Byron Lassalle, “understanding that Ackal wanted him to assault the detainee to retaliate against him for (a) lewd comment, Lassalle, in the presence of Ackal and Savoy, asked (Wesley) Hayes where there was a place at the jail without cameras, and Hayes responded, ‘the chapel.’”

The indictment said while the prisoner was being hit “multiple times with a baton, he “was compliant and not posing a threat to anyone” and no officer in the chapel attempted to stop “the unlawful assault.”

It said that up learning another prisoner was in jail for a sex offense, “Lassalle took his baton, held it between his own legs as if it were a penis, and forced it into (the prisoner’s) mouth,” causing him to choke.

As first and then another prisoner, while being beaten, blamed the lewd comment on someone else, deputies would bring the newest accused into the chapel to be beaten, apparently without making any real effort to determine who actually made the comment. In short, punishment, not seeking the truth, seemed to be the top priority.

If convicted, Ackal and Savoy could face up to 10 years in prison, plus fines of $250,000 for each count.

As further evidence of the complete deterioration of law and order in Iberia Parish, LouisianaVoice has obtained additional documents that show unrestrained lawlessness on the part of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In that case, which will be laid out in greater detail in a future post, LouisianaVoice will chronicle how deputies not only raided the home of an Iberia Parish Teach of the Year on the basis of an informant who was paid $45 by a deputy, but one of the deputies later pleaded guilty to stealing jewelry, a gun, money, and knives from the teacher’s home during the raid.

In perhaps the most implausible thing to come out of that raid was a list of evidence found in the teacher’s home that included “counterfeit five dollar bills,” prompting a retired state police officer to simply shake his head in disbelief. “Who makes counterfeit five dollar bills?” he asked rhetorically. “I’ve never seen counterfeit bills in denominations smaller than twenties.”

There is probably no more interesting sight than seeing the expression on one’s face the moment he realizes he is wrong. That look most surely crossed the face of the district attorney at some point in time.

The raid and the ensuing charges against the teacher, which cost him his job, are so egregious in nature that the district attorney’s office has offered him the opportunity to plea to a misdemeanor with no jail time, no probation, and complete expungement of his record. No such deal would ever be offered if prosecutors weren’t fully aware they had laid an egg.

The significance of that move was not lost on the teacher, Darius Sias, who has a civil lawsuit pending against the sheriff’s office. He rolled the dice in turning down the plea offer so that he could pursue his civil suit. “I want to go to trial on this,” he said.

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