The new St. Bernard Parish Hospital, which in September is expected to complete its licensing process and be ready to admit patients, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Tuesday, July 31, showing off a facility boasting the latest technology for medical care and diagnostic testing. The opening of the hospital, which will start with 40 beds and have room to expand and will have more than 200 employees is the culmination of a long process that began after a private hospital which flooded in Hurricane Katrina never reopened after the storm. Archbishop Rev. Gregory Aymond is shown cutting the ribbon with Wayne J. Landry, chairman of the hospital Service District Board, surrounded by numerous parish elected officials and representatives of the hospital, the parish Chamber of Commerce and the Franciscan Ministries of Our Lady Health System. Sheriff James Pohlmann is shown leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the ceremony, standing next to Parish President David Peralta and, at left, hospital CEO Tim Burke. In the foreground is a member of the Honor Guard for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office. The Archbishop is shown delivering a blessing to Dr. Bryan Bertucci, the parish’s elected coroner and a driving force in trying to get a hospital built. Wayne Landry is shown receiving a plaque from Jim DiFatta, longest serving member of the hospital service district board. Guests are shown at the open house in the hospital, following the ribbon-cutting.
Locking vehicles would prevent most auto burglaries and thefts and bringing guns inside at night would better keep them from thieves, Sheriff says
There’s one thing almost never found when there is a vehicle theft or burglary in St. Bernard Parish: Broken glass on the scene where it happened.
That’s because the doors usually weren’t locked and entry was made with no trouble, Sheriff James Pohlmann said. Sometimes criminals do use devices to open locked vehicles but most of the time the victims didn’t lock them or can’t recall if they did.
Sheriff’s deputies investigating burglaries of vehicles or auto thefts hardly ever see broken glass that would indicate a forced entry, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
“I know it sounds obvious, but if more residents could take the time to lock doors it really would severely reduce their odds of becoming a crime victim,’’ he said.
Also, Pohlmann said, residents who carry guns in their vehicles for protection should bring them inside and lock them up at night to prevent thieves from stealing them.
“I know how easy it is to forget about locking car doors,’’ the sheriff said. “You’re just not thinking about it when you are removing groceries or other purchases and maybe at the same time dealing with getting your children inside.’’
And it’s good that St. Bernard is basically a safe parish and fear of crime isn’t a constant worry, he said.
But there are criminals – some of them addicts looking for anything to steal to pay for drugs – who walk around and always pull on door handles of parked vehicles at night just to see if there is an easy opportunity to take something, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
He said that has been proven in cases when deputies on patrol at night catch someone in the act and they admit they just pulled open a door handle or when home surveillance videos pick up characters walking and pulling on door handles.
“Burglars are trying to strike quickly and move to another target,’’ getting whatever they can from an unlocked vehicle such as loose change, prescription drugs, GPSs, cameras, or maybe a laptop computer,’’ Pohlmann said. “They are looking for unlocked doors to get in easily without breaking glass that would cause noise and draw attention.’’
Some vehicle burglaries recently in which doors were unlocked have resulted in guns being take, possibly to be used in other crimes, Pohlmann said. It would be better if the guns were taken inside and locked up at night, he said.
“Our whole thinking here is to make it harder for bad guys, not easier,’’ the sheriff said.
And, as always, anyone seeing suspicious activity such as people looking in vehicles or trying door handles should quickly call the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501 to report it and give a description of those involved so deputies can look for them.
“Timely calls bring arrests,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Sheriff Pohlmann visits Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to discuss S.O. and tout the recovery of St. Bernard
St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann and two top staff members, Maj. Mark Poche and Maj. Adolph Kreger, recently visited NASA’s Michould Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans – part of the Marshall Space Flight Center – where from 1973 to 2010 the Space Shuttle’s External Tanks were constructed. Pohlmann spoke to safety professionals of Jacobs Technology, which maintains and operates the multi-tenant, 832-acre site, as well as other NASA officials.
The sheriff discussed the state of the Sheriff’s Office as he ends his first month in office and touted the recovery of St. Bernard Parish. He noted a number of employees there are parish natives but some have moved since the storm, then encouraged them to consider returning. “St. Bernard has a lot to offer,’’ Pohlmann said, pointing out its new flood protection system, new school system whose students are receiving top marks in statewide tests, as well as the parish hospital opening shortly.
“We’ve lost good people’’ since the storm and welcome them back, he said. Shown, Pohlmann addresses the employees and meets with Steven Hanberg, logistics specialist for Jacobs. Poche, Pohlmann and Kreger are shown in front of a model of the shuttle. Also, Hanberg explains another model at the facility. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTOS.
Andrew Smith, 20, was arrested Friday night, July 20, after he left the apartment complex in Chalmette when the girl came out of her bedroom and phoned her mother and also told Smith’s older brother what happened, Pohlmann said.
The older brother and Smith were spending the week-end at the apartment of the girl’s mother, who had left them with the girl, Pohlmann said.
When Smith was found outside the apartment complex by Sheriff’s Dep. Cpl. Shane Lulei, Smith told him, “I know why you’re here, because I had sex with a younger female,’’ a sheriff’s report of the incident said.
Smith is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set at $500,000.
Aggravated rape of a juvenile is punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison.
The girl, who was examined at a hospital after the incident, said she was sleeping in her room about 5 p.m. when she was awakened by Smith coming in and locking the door. When she asked why he did that, she said, Smith told her not to worry about it and walked to her bed, placed one hand over her mouth and forced her to have sex.
She said when it was over Smith left, she got dressed, then ran out to get her phone and call her mother, Pohlmann said.
Owner of St. Bernard trailer park booked with intent to distribute 800 prescription pain and anxiety pills worth $5,000; S.O. believes he accepted drugs and food stamp cards to re-pay loans made and for rent
Adam Ciuffi Sr., 64, an owner of a St. Bernard Parish trailer park, had a small pharmacy of some 800 prescription drugs in his Meraux home but they weren’t kept on shelves. Sheriff’s narcotics agents found them in a pillow case in about 30 bottles prescribed to others when a search warrant was served, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
There were also numerous Louisiana food stamp cards in a wallet in the home at 2540 Lawrence Drive. The combined value of the pills if they were sold on the street was estimated at just under $5,000.
Pohlmann said Ciuffi, an owner of Myrtle Grove Trailer Park in Meraux, claimed he was holding the medication for other people he said are acquaintances.
But further investigation shows Ciuffi may have been acting as a loan shark, making loans to people and asking for prescription drugs and food stamp cards as payment if the borrowers couldn’t fully re-pay, the sheriff said. He said there are also indications Ciuffi was accepting pills and cards as rent payment from people living at the trailer park.
Ciuffi was booked with 29 counts of possession with intent to distribute prescription drugs, mostly painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. Drugs found included Vicodin, Suboxone pills and strips, Oxycocone, Clonazepam, Tramodol and others. None of the drugs were prescribed to Ciuffi.
He was released from St. Bernard Parish Prison on bond of $150,000.
Ciuffi was arrested July 12 but it wasn’t revealed by the Sheriff’s Office until Friday while agents of the Special Investigations Division commanded by Maj. Chad Clark conducted an investigation of the names listed on the prescription bottles, Pohlmann said.
The investigation into the case is ongoing and there could be further charges, the sheriff said.
Anyone with additional information should call the sheriff’s DOPE Hotline at 271-DOPE and a message can be left anonymously.
More than 35 years ago, in the mid-1970s, Ciuffi was arrested on a charge of murder in St. Bernard Parish. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1977 and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
N.O. man booked in robbery where a motorcycle was taken at gunpoint in St. Bernard and S.O. seeks identity of 2nd man with him; Miss teen-ager caught in Chalmette with stolen car and two loaded guns
Sheriff’s detectives are seeking the name of a second man involved in the robbery who actually pulled the gun on the motorcycle owner. Anyone with information on his identity should call Crimestoppers at 822-1111 or the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office at 271-2501 and they could be eligible for a reward if an arrest is made.
Also, in a separate incident, a 16-year-old Bay St. St. Louis male on probation for three burglaries was caught in Chalmette on Thursday with two loaded handguns while driving a car stolen recently in Gulfport, Pohlmann said. The teen also had a small amount of marijuana.
Timothy Peters, 27, is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of $200,000 bond set after he was booked with armed robbery in the motorcycle incident, Pohlmann said.
The sheriff said Peters admitted driving a Chevrolet Chamaro which was pulled up next to the motorcycle owner about 1 a.m. at a stop light on Claude Avenue at a side street in Arabi. A male passenger jumped out of the car with a gun and took the cycle after threatening its owner, Pohlmann said.
Peters, who denied he was part of the robbery although the man with the gun got out of his vehicle, said he didn’t know the man’s name and didn’t know he was going to rob the motorcyclist.
Pohlmann said Peters and his vehicle were sought after his license plate number was seen as he drove away and headed toward the New Orleans line after the robbery.
The vehicle was registered to someone else but Peters was eventually traced as driving it that night and he was arrested in New Orleans with the cooperation of NOPD, Pohlmann said.
In the arrest of the juvenile, the teen-ager, whose name wasn’t released because he is a minor, was stopped in Chalmette after the vehicle he drove was discovered to be reported stolen, the sheriff said.
Deputy Brian Canepa spotted him driving in a parking lot and tried to stop the teen, who fled toward Paris Road where he ran a stop light and headed north toward New Orleans. He soon lost control and went off the road and was arrested, Pohlmann said.
The boy had two loaded handguns, including one on the driver’s seat, when he was stopped. He was booked into the St. Bernard juvenile detention center on charges of possession of stolen property, aggravated flight from an officer, with being a juvenile in possession of firearms, possession of marijuana and possession of firearms in combination with a controlled dangerous substance.
Mississippi authorities were coming to St. Bernard to investigate.
Plaquemines Parish man found with one pound of marijuana, $3,590 cash and a digital scale in vehicle
A Plaquemines Parish man was arrested in eastern St. Bernard Monday night, July 16, with one pound of marijuana worth about $1,000, a wallet containing $3,590 in cash and a digital scale, all in the vehicle he was driving, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Kevin Wagner, 30, of Braithwaite was booked with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and with possession of drug paraphernalia, which was the scale. He was jailed but has been released on $15,000 bond.
Wagner was stopped about 8 p.m. when agents of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Division headed by Maj. Chad Clark noticed the vehicle because it was similar to a vehicle sought in a separate investigation.
He said when officers approached the car they smelled a strong aroma of raw marijuana coming from inside and saw loose vegetable matter on a passenger seat.
Wagner complied with a request to search the vehicle and they found a bag that had three plastic bags of marijuana inside, weighing a total of one pound, along with the scale, Pohlmann said.
The wallet with the cash inside was located in a center console.
Wagner acknowledged under questioning he had been selling marijuana in St. Bernard Parish, Pohlmann said.
Registration open for new free sessions of Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy which starts Aug. 29; Call 278-7628; 550 residents have attended since 1999
Parish residents who want to learn and have a chance to ask questions should register for the new free, 12-week Citizens Police Academy sessions which begin Aug. 29 at Nunez Community College, Sheriff James Pohlmann said. Classes meet each Wednesday night through graduation night in November.
To register, residents should call (504) 278-7628 and speak with Capt. Charles Borchers, head of Community Relations and Neighborhood Watch programs for the Sheriff’s Office. Borhers also runs the Citizens Police Academy classes.
Pohlmann said, “This course will answer a lot of the questions you have had about law enforcement and why things are done the way they are.’’ Graduates, he said, become “ambassadors for law enforcement because it gives them a vested interest in what happens in St. Bernard.’’
He also said there are frank discussions about specifics of law enforcement in St. Bernard and chances for residents to ask questions and give their in-put.
There are numerous features to the Citizens Police Academy program, such as:
– Hearing from sheriff’s commanders on various phases of law enforcement including patrol work, narcotics enforcement, detective duties, SWAT team demonstrations.
– Receiving boating safety tips.
– Lectures from law enforcement agencies from outside St. Bernard.
– Touring Parish Prison and experiencing a firearms simulator and other hands-on use of equipment is a part of the program.
Without actually firing a gun, the firearms simulator – using computerized videos – puts residents in the shoes of a sheriff’s deputy and lets them decide when they would use deadly force on a criminal suspect.
Some 550 parish residents have graduated Citizens Police Academy in St. Bernard since its inception in 1999.
The classes, which will feature speakers from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are geared to fostering good relations between the community and law enforcement.
This is the fifth class for the Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy since Hurricane Katrina and more than 130 people graduated those last four sessions, said Borchers, who coordinates the programs.
Borchers said the program “has been a great success since we started back.”
100 Ecstasy tablets seized in traffic stop and Marrero man arrested; Man stopped in vehicle reported stolen
A Marrero man who was stopped for driving in Chalmette at 1:20 a.m. with his headlights off was found to have about 100 tablets of MDMA, or Ecstasy, worth $2,500 in the vehicle, most in a plastic bag and some loose on the passenger side floorboard, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Christopher Ross, 29, was headed eastbound July 12 when Cpl. Lee Morgan of the sheriff’s Narcotics Unit saw him driving without headlights on at 1:20 a.m., and as he stopped him Ross was reaching for something on the passenger side floorboard, Pohlmann said.
When the driver ignored initial commands to show his hands, the officer opened the unlocked driver’s side door and ordered Ross from the vehicle but Ross ignored him and a struggle followed, Pohlmann said.
After Ross was subdued, Morgan performed a pat down for officer’s safety and found a wad of cash totaling $790 in his left, front pocket.
Cpl. Morgan also saw several multi-colored tablets on the passenger side floorboard.
Assisting sheriff’s deputies arrived and found a plastic bag protruding from behind the center console and it contained about 100 similar multi-color tablets, along with four tablets on the floorboard, Pohlmann said.
A preliminary field test showed a positive indication for the drug Ecstasy.
Ross was booked into St. Bernard Parish Prison with possession with intent to distribute MDMA, with resisting an officer and with the traffic violations.
There was no bond information available.
In a separate matter, a New Orleans man was booked with possession of stolen property and with possession of marijuana when he was stopped in Chalmette on July 9 while driving a vehicle reported stolen, Pohlmann said.
Russell Veals, 32, was stopped by Dep. Clayten Burns on West Judge Perez Drive just after 11:30 p.m.
When booked into St. Bernard Prison, Veals was found to have a ball of paper containing a small amount of marijuana and he was booked on that charge as well as possession of the stolen vehicle, Pohlmann said.
Sheriff Pohlmann supports fund-raising effort for Crimestoppers, which has partnered with realtors group for Sept. 22 road race on Canal Street in N.O.
St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann was among law enforcement and business leaders as well the New Orleans Saints’ Zack Streif who gave support July 13 to fund-raising efforts for Crimestoppers Inc., the non-profit which has helped solve 12,000 crimes in 30 years by offering rewards for tips.
Crimestoppers, headed by President and CEO Darlene Cusanza, is partnering with a realtors group for a 5-K road race Sept. 22 on Canal Street to try to raise $50,000. The money would make up for national and state funding cuts that threaten the group’s youth crime prevention programs and student leadership programs, Cusanza said.
Pohlmann, who was among several who spoke at a news conference including Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman, said, “We are a big supporter of Crimestoppers,’’ which has received many tips that have helped solve crimes in St. Bernard, he said.
The sheriff endorsed the idea of businesses sponsoring the Sept. 22 foot race on Canal Street to help raise money for Crimestoppers and a new program whereby the public can make a pledge in memory of a crime victim. Crimestoppers can be reached at 837-8477.
Pohlmann said, “We are fortunate to have a safe community’’ in St. Bernard and appreciate the help Crimestoppers gives to keep it that way. “We are in this with them for the long haul.’’
Law enforcement officials from the U.S. Marshal’s Office, State Police, New Orleans Police, Kenner Police, Covington Police and the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office also took part in the news conference.
Also, Alkima Williaomson, whose 7-year-old daughter, Paige Dejean, was killed by a stray bullet that came through a wall as she slept in her bed, urged people to help raise money for Crimestoppers. An arrest in the girl’s death was made based on a tip to the non-profit group,
The Canal Street Race for Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans will also feature a one-mile fun-run/walk with a chance for donors to back teams fielded by local police, fire and paramedic departments.
“Crimestoppers could not do its job in protecting our citizens without the hard work of our dedicated law enforcement and first responders,” Cusanza said at a news conference on Friday at the group’s Metairie office.
“In order to show our community’s appreciation for their service, we will have an opportunity for citizens to pledge their support behind their favorite law enforcement or first responders’ race team.”
The Commercial Investment Division of the New Orleans Metropolitan Realtors’ Association as well as the group’s national parent organization has pledged $10,500 to sponsor the costs of the race, Cusanza said. For more information, CID President Frann Ryan can be reached at 504.872.0406.
Realtors will be involved in trying to raise $50,000 in additional money from local businesses. Officials of the realtors group said they challenge trade groups and corporations to do what they can to help Crimestoppers do their job of trying to prevent crime and offer rewards for tips to solve individual acts of crime.
The race, open to the public, will start at the foot of Canal Street, continue north to Galvez Street and double back downtown for a post-race party at the finish line, Cusanza said.
For more information about the race and sponsorship opportunities, contact Cusanza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.837.8477 and Nell Carmichael at email@example.com or 504.274.0704.
The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors has donated $10,500 to sponsor costs of the Canal Street race. “There are some things that threaten our growth (as a community), and we thought one of the main things is crime, particularly violent crime,” realtors committee Chairman Jim Stratton said.
“We’ve recognized, certainly, that rebuilding this community and giving back to this community is as important a job as winning football games for us,” New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Zach Streif said.