Thirty-one of thirty-eight people wanted in a Sheriff’s Office drug round-up March 27 are jailed and 7 remain at-large; Most dealt heroin, crack, pills and marijuana; Sheriff vows year-round undercover operations
Thirty-one of thirty-eight people wanted in a St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office drug round-up are now jailed and 7 remain at-large, Sheriff James Pohlmann said, adding he is fed up with drug-dealers, particularly increasing numbers of heroin distributors who could destroy the nature of St. Bernard Parish if not stopped.
“We were angered by the number of people we were able to purchase heroin from,’’ in this undercover operation, Sheriff Pohlmann said. “But we are going to put them in prison and anyone who thinks they can take their place dealing will join them in prison.’’
Sheriff Pohlmann and Maj. Chad Clark, commander of the Special Investigations Division which includes the Narcotics Unit, said the undercover drug investigation carried out over recent months led to arrest warrants for 38 people wanted for selling heroin, crack, pills and marijuana.
“This operation went smoothly as planned and our SID division did an excellent job,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Two of the wanted group, both women, were wanted for accessory to dealing pills. One juvenile, a 16-year-old Chalmette boy whose name can’t be released, was arrested for selling marijuana and was taken to the parish juvenile detention center after his arrest.
Six suspects in the investigation, which was dubbed “Operation Summer Heat Phase II’’ because it began immediately after last September’s drug round-up named “Operation Summer Heat,” in which more than 40 arrests were made, have been in jail since before Wednesday’s round-up.
There were arrest warrants for eight people who sold heroin, one of whom, Marvin Richards, has been in prison since December when he was arrested with 11 grams of heroin
“This is all-out war for the future of our parish,”” Pohlmann said of efforts to stop dealing. “We have zero tolerance for drug-dealers. Users need rehabilitation but drug-dealers need to go to prison.’’
Maj. Clark said undercover drug operations will continue year-round by the Sheriff’s Office.
“If you deal drugs in St. Bernard you will be arrested,” Clark said. He added, “Remember this, if you sell drugs here you won’t know until it’s too late that you might be on video doing it. All drug buys by the Sheriff’s Office are videoed and there is no question you will be convicted when you are shown on the video.’’
He said there were a total of 43 cases of separate undercover buys of drugs, including 11 heroin, 15 marijuana, 3 crack cocaine and 14 pharmaceutical purchases.
Still wanted on arrest warrants are: Cernell Davis, 39, of Violet, heroin distribution; Garrett Felger, of Slidell, heroin distribution; Earl Harris, 25, Chalmette, distribution of heroin and crack cocaine; Rodney Green Jr., 28, of Violet, distribution of crack; Derek Smith, 21, of New Orleans, heroin distribution; Dwight Carter, 23, of Chalmette, marijuana distribution; and Michael Currera, 34, of Chalmette, distribution of pills.
Phase II was an effort to continue to bring heat on drug-dealers, authorities said.
“In past years after previous undercover operations, the Sheriff’s Office would let things cool down on the streets,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “Sometimes it would be several months before a new drug operation was started.”
That is over now, he said. “Unlike those times, immediately upon the conclusion of “Summer Heat’’ members of the Special Investigations Division continued making undercover purchases parish-wide.’’
The sheriff said, “We believe these arrests should make a dent in street sales in St. Bernard Parish and maybe scare some into recognizing there is a high probability of being caught if you deal drugs here.’’
Sheriff Pohlmann also said, “One reason we enjoy a low level of violence in this parish is because we don’t let drug-dealers stand on corners and end up killing each other over drug turf and customers.’’
During the time of this undercover operation, 6 search warrants were executed that were directly related to the investigation and had to be dealt with at the time, rather than postponed until the conclusion of the operation.
For instance, on Dec, 11, 2012, Marvin Richards was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute 10.9 grams of heroin and 1.5 grams of cocaine.
Richards also sold heroin during the undercover operation Summer Heat Phase II and was arrested and booked with distribution of heroin. Richards was a known mid-level heroin dealer in St. Bernard Parish and members of the Special Investigations Division placed a little extra “heat” on catching him, Clark said.
Agents also arrested two of Richards’ close associates as well as other members of his operation during the December investigation.
Also, Sanaa Halum, a Chalmette woman, sold Suboxone, a drug for weaning people off heroin addiction, and she also sold marijuana during Summer Heat Phase II. As a result of those purchases and information received from a confidential informant, members of the Special Investigation Division began an investigation looking into the distribution of marijuana being sold from the residence of Sanaa Halum and her boyfriend, Brandon Celastaine, at 2521 Jackson Blvd., Chalmette.
On March 4, a search warrant was executed at their home and narcotics agents found 10.4 pounds of marijuana hidden under one of their children’s bed, about one gram of heroin and a loaded .40 caliber hand gun that was found hidden in the children’s bedroom closet.
Richards, Halum and four others booked in Summer Heat Phase II were already incarcerated in St. Bernard Parish Prison before the round-up started. The others are Jennifer Buchanan of Chalmette, wanted in the latest operation for two counts of selling heroin; Dwayne Jones of Violet, wanted in the operation for two counts of selling marijuana; Lorrell Robinson, wanted for selling marijuana; and Jamin Muscarello of Chalmette, wanted in the operation for selling pills.
During the arrests made Wednesday, agents also booked three men and a woman on unrelated charges of possession of marijuana when a small amount was found at a residence where they went to find Todd Adams Jr., of Violet, wanted for sale of pills of marijuana.
When a small amount of marijuana was found during his arrest, Adams Jr. was also booked on the misdemeanor possession count, along with his father, Tony Adams Sr., and three others.
While the undercover investigation was conducted by St. Bernard narcotics officers, other law enforcement agencies including the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, ICE, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and State Police took part in the round-up.
List of arrested suspects and their charges besides the six already in custody:
|Desmond Major||B/M||07/17/75||2513 Bobwhite, Poydras; heroin|
|Britney Lebeau||W/F||07/25/88||2209 E. Christie, Poydras; pills|
|Alexis Eady||W/F||02/24/94||9112 Livingston, Chalmette; pills|
|Byron Meyer||W/M||05/26/69||3621 Jupiter, Chalmette; pills|
|Ryan Currera||W/M||8/23/77||3020 Lloyds, Chalmette; pills|
|Todd Adams Jr.||W/M||08/21/82||2420 Packenham, Violet; pills and marijuana (two buys)|
|Milton Smith||W/M||01/27/92||2012 Despaux, Chalmette; marijuana|
|Robert Polk||B/M||12/19/81||3005 Daniel, Violet; marijuana|
|Ernest Jones||B/M||11/30/87||6326 Jules Brown, Violet; heroin|
|Theresa Dempsey||W/F||02/25/59||2420 St. Bernard Hwy. Apt. 2206, Chalmette; pills|
|Sharon Acosta||W/F||09/16/69||7206 Anne, Arabi ; pills|
|Corey Couste||W/M||03/23/89||517 Friscoville, Arabi; pills|
|Nathan Reese||B/M||09/04/79||2001 Mumphrey, Apt. 6, Chalmette; pills|
|Reginald Patterson||B/M||05/29/79||3301 Jupiter, Chalmette; heroin|
|Frank Stevens||W/M||04/21/53||3620 Park, Chalmette; pills|
|Alec St. Germain||W/M||03/25/95||2036 Brigade, Chalmette; marijuana|
|Andre Major||B/M||06/17/85||3007 Daniel, Violet; crack cocaine|
|Cory Riley||W/M||09/30/77||#63 E. Chalmette Cr., Chalmette; marijuana|
|Keyron Ross||B/M||07/09/83||3921 Jean Lafitte, Chalmette; hashish|
|Michael Walters||W/M||09/18/93||3401 Jupiter, Chalmette; marijuana|
|Paul Tardo||W/M||06/16/64||2512 Marcelle, Chalmette; pills|
|Rene Murrell||W/M||05/25/95||2904 Munster, Meraux; marijuana|
|Angele Sentilles||W/F||09/14/62||3020 Lloyds, Chalmette; Booked as an accessory to pill distribution|
|Valerie Payne||W/F||01/08/64||2512 Marcelle, Chalmette; Booked as an accessory to pill distribution|
A 16-year-old male juvenile in Chalmette whose name can’t be released; marijuana
Slidell man fired a shot through a window of his ex-girlfriend’s home in St. Bernard and arrested after high-speed chase to Slidell; He had a mask, an AK-47 rifle, a hand gun and high-capacity magazines in auto
A 20-year-old Slidell man fired a gun through a window of his ex-girlfriend’s home in Violet early Wednesday, March 27, and was arrested after a high-speed chase at more than 100 mph to Slidell, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
And authorities are wondering what else the suspect was up to, based on what was found inside his auto after the arrest: a mask and a small arsenal.
There was an AK-47 rifle, a 40 mm Glock hand gun believed used in the shooting, three high-capacity magazines for the rifle with 7.62 mm rounds, two fully loaded 15-round magazines for the hand gun, a fully loaded 30-round magazine and a 12-round magazine.
Thomas Johnson, 340 Autumn Lakes Road, was arrested by State Police and St. Tammany sheriff’s deputies after 2 a.m., following him being chased to Interstate 10 by St. Bernard sheriff’s deputies Lt. Ricky Jackson and Thomas Lala, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
No one was injured in the 1:40 a.m. shooting into the living room window of a home in the 2900 block of Daniel Drive in Violet, where Johnson’s ex-girlfriend lives, Sheriff Pohlmann said. She said they had recently broken up and Johnson removed his belongings from the house the day before.
She also said she was lying in the living room and recognized the distinctive sound of Johnson’s Mustang when she heard him pull up on the front lawn, she said in an incident report afterward.
She said there was tapping on the front door, followed by a blast of a gun through the living room window, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Not hit, the woman ran to a back bedroom while a relative of her’s ran to the living room and fired a shotgun back through the window at the assailant, the sheriff said. She also said she then heard what she believed to be Johnson speeding away. A casing was found outside the home.
Sheriff’s deputies spotted Johnson and the Mustang speeding on Paris Road, heading toward the New Orleans line, several minutes after the victim called the Sheriff’s Office.
The deputies tried to stop the car, using lights and sirens, but the driver refused and they eventually followed him to I-10 East, where Johnson headed toward Slidell at speeds above 100 mph, the sheriff said.
Once in Slidell, State Police and St. Tammany sheriff’s deputies took control of the pursuit, Sheriff Pohlmann said. Johnson exited the interstate and stopped in a store parking lot on the service road, where he was arrested.
Johnson denied firing a gun through the woman’s living room window, saying he only tried to retrieve an item he left at the house.
Johnson was jailed in St. Tammany Parish but could be returned to St. Bernard Parish within days to be booked with attempted murder and aggravated flight from officers. Sheriff Pohlmann said.
His vehicle was brought to St. Bernard and was searched after a search warrant was signed by a judge. The mask and guns were found in the vehicle at that time, the sheriff said.
More than $8,000 worth of marijuana, a shotgun and $3,600 cash recovered in one day by Sheriff’s Office
In one day, Friday, March 15, the sheriff’s Special Investigations Division recovered three-quarters of a pound of marijuana worth more than $8,000, a shotgun, about $3,600 cash and arrested six people in two cases, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
In the first arrests, a man, his mother and another woman, all from New Orleans, were taken into custody after the man was stopped about 11 a.m. for running a red light and other traffic offenses on West Judge Perez Drive in Arabi, the sheriff said.
Agents of the sheriff’s SID, commanded by Maj. Chad Clark, smelled raw marijuana in the vehicle, questioned the driver about it and received verbal consent for a search, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Officers found a total of 5.4 ounces of marijuana in two locations, worth $3,900 on the streets. Also located was other evidence of drug-dealing, including several scales and plastic sandwich bags. The sheriff said.
A shotgun hidden under a pile of clothes and $1,991 cash was also discovered.
Arrested were driver Maurice Rothschild, 20, his mother, Angela Rothschild, 42, both of 1913 Iberville St., and Tiffani Pratcher, 21, 1640 Painters St.
All were booked with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm while possessing a controlled dangerous substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The driver also was booked with driving with a suspended license and with a number of traffic offenses.
The three were booked into St. Bernard Parish Prison.
In a separate case about 3:15 p.m. that day, two men and a woman were arrested and seized was a total of 6.1 ounces of marijuana in two locations, worth a total of $4,350. The high-quality marijuana was packaged in numerous small plastic bags. Scales and plastic bags were also found.
Also recovered was about $1,600 cash, making it a total seizure of some $3,600 that day, the sheriff said.
“That’s the way to deal a blow to drug-dealers by taking their drugs and cash and putting them in jail,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.
The three arrests were made at two apartments at 2620 Angelique Drive, Violet.
Agents arrested Arthur Pierce, 46, who lived in Apt. D at 2620 Angelique, and Martin Dippold, 28, and Mindy Sistrunk, 26, both of Apt. Apt. A, in the same complex.
All three were booked with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. All were booked into St. Bernard Parish Prison.
Officers found Pierce and Dippold in Pierce’s apartment, where marijuana was in plain view on a counter, and other marijuana was also found in Pierce’s apartment, the sheriff said. A bag of the drug was also located on Dippold at that time.
Dippold admitted he had more marijuana in his apartment and permitted a search, where other bags were found. Sistrunk, who was inside Dippold’s apartment and said she lived there, was also arrested.
Sheriff Pohlmann addresses Heart of Chalmette Neighborhood Association meeting in Parish Council Chamber
Sheriff James Pohlmann was the featured speaker at a meeting of the Heart of Chalmette Neighborhood Association in the Parish Council Chamber the night of March 14. Standing at the railing, the sheriff addressed the group and took questions on matters of interest involving law enforcement in St. Bernard. Attending with him were several members of the department’s senior staff, including Col. John Doran, Maj. Adolph Kreger Jr., Capt. Charles Borchers, Capt. John Gutierrez and Lt. Robert Broadhead.
State District Judge Jacques Sanborn stands at the bench in the main courtroom before calling to order the first session of court to be held in the reopened 74-year-old St. Bernard Parish Courthouse on Monday, after it was closed three years for mold remediation and remodeling. The first session was criminal arraignments. With the judge are Sheriff James Pohlmann and, at left, Maj. Mark Poche. Seated below is Capt. Errol Schultz, bailiff and director of Courthouse services. Other state District judges returning to the Courthouse are Kirk Vaughn, who is the longest serving judge in the 34th Judicial District Court, and judges Manny Fernandez, Robert Buckley and Perry Nicosia. Also shown is the newly-styled Clerk of Court’s Office on the first floor, with Clerk Randy Nunez at the rear of the room, talking withChief Deputy Clerk Connie Spencer.
Airgas Inc. donates protective body armor vest to Sheriff’s Office on behalf of an employee who is a member of the sheriff’s Reserve Division
Airgas Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and has 14,000 employees, has donated a protective body armor vest to the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office on behalf of an employee who is a member of the sheriff’s Reserve Division.
Sheriff James Pohlmann thanked Mike Davis, general manager of the Airgas division in Harvey, at a recent presentation of the vest by the company on behalf of one of its employee, Scott Bowles. Bowles is with the sheriff’s Reserve Division and is a former full-time sheriff’s deputy in St. Bernard.
“We support community service,’’ Davis said in explaining why it donated the protective vest. He said the company has been involved in helping numerous law enforcement agencies and other worthwhile causes such as fund-raising for Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.
“Scott is a valued employee and we wanted to help protect him’’ through the donation of the vest, Davis said.
Bowles said he has been a member of the Reserve Division of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office for about a year and a half and previously was a regular force deputy from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.
Also present for the presentation were Capt. Charles Borchers, coordinator of the Reserve Division of the Sheriff’s Office as part of his duties as head of Community Relations including Neighborhood Watch and Citizens Police Academy, and Capt. Joe Ricca, the ranking officer of the reserves.
Davis said Airgas had a branch of its business on Paris Road in Chalmette prior to Hurricane Katrina but it was heavily damage by flood waters.
The company was involved in eliminating more than 25,000 damaged air cylinders after Hurricane Katrina including hazardous compressed gas cylinders, in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Tammany, Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes, Davis said.
Sheriff Pohlmann invited other businesses and groups to consider helping protect officers in the community by making a donation specifically for a body armor vest.
Anyone interested in making such a donation should call Maj. David DiMaggio, head of training for the Sheriff’s Office, at (504) 278-7632.
Man found shot to death on street in an industrial area off Paris Road in Chalmette, near New Orleans line
A A 33-year-old man with no apparent ties to St. Bernard Parish was found Sunday morning shot to death on a street in an industrial area off Paris Road in Chalmette, near the New Orleans line, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
The man was identified as Herman Jones Jr., who apparently didn’t have a permanent address, the sheriff said, but may have resided in Gretna at one time.
Sheriff Pohlmann said the victim was found about 7:30 a.m. by a passer-by, who called the Sheriff’s Office to report the man was lying along a street several blocks east of Paris road in an industrial area.
The victim was shot multiple times and appeared to have been dead several hours, Sheriff Pohlmann said. He had been shot at the scene, based on evidence found there including bullet casings.
Jones had a criminal record, authorities said.
There was no indication he had any ties to St. Bernard Parish and apparently had never been arrested in the parish, the sheriff said.
Pohlmann said anyone with information about the murder or knows the names of associates of Jones should call the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501 or Crimestoppers at 822-1111 and they could be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500 if an arrest is made in the case.
Landmark St. Bernard Parish Courthouse reopens Monday in its 74-year-old home on West St. Bernard Highway after three-year renovation
It’s been a long time coming – about three years in fact – but the landmark 74-year-old St. Bernard Parish Courthouse reopens Monday after a renovation to remove mold and to remodel.
The place where St. Bernard residents got their marriage licenses, took care of any court business they had and turned out on election nights to see the results posted in the clerk’s office, will be back in its old Art Deco building constructed in 1939 on West St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette.
Home to the 34th Judicial District Court, with its five state court judges, 34-year veteran District Attorney John F. “Jack’’ Rowley and new Clerk of Court Randy Nunez, the building had reopened once after Hurricane Katrina swamped it with flood waters.
But mold returned and spread in the building, forcing a renovation that took a long time to complete.
“I won’t believe it until I’m actually in it,” said state District Judge Jacques Sanborn, who is chief judge of the court this year. “It’s been three years. It was supposed to be a one year project.”
Since it was closed in 2010, the Courthouse which is owned by parish government, has been relocated to a complex of buildings in the old Village Square shopping center on West Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.
It had neighboring businesses which included a tattoo parlor, restaurants and other assorted shops.
“It hasn’t been a real pleasant experience,” Judge Sanborn said.
But on Monday, Sanborn will be back on the bench in the renovated Courthouse to handle criminal court arraignments, which will be the first court session there.
The other state District judges returning there are Kirk Vaughn, who is the senior judge, Manny Fernandez, Robert Buckley and Perry Nicosia.
It won’t be the same as before in the Courthouse in several ways.
The Assessor’s Office won’t be going back in the Courthouse. The offices of the Assessor are now in a new parish government-owned building at 2118 Jackson, which opened in the fall of 2012, immediately behind the Courthouse. That building is on land that was the old parish jail building before Hurricane Katrina, after the jail building was torn down and FEMA paid for a new building.
Also, there is a new Clerk of Court going into the renovated Courthouse. Randy Nunez, sworn-in last July 1, will be the clerk in a building where he once practiced law.
Most of the renovations to the Courthouse, which cost nearly $14 million, were paid for by FEMA.
Sheriff’s Office arrests man a deputy shot at but missed when suspect pulled a handgun from his waistband as officers confronted him over injuring a deputy in a car crash
St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a man who was shot at once but not hit by a deputy Thursday morning when he grabbed a gun from his waistband as officers confronted him over injuring a deputy in a car crash, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
The suspect, identified as Torraino Johnson, 28, was being confronted over an incident in which he fled in a vehicle from an attempted traffic stop about 8:30 a.m., then crashed into a sheriff’s patrol car, injuring a deputy who was driving to intercept the fleeing motorist.
The deputy suffered minor injuries despite extensive damage to the patrol car. After the crash, which happened on Paris Road at East Liberaux Street, the suspect ran northbound a short distance along East Liberaux until confronted by several deputies, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Johnson pulled a gun from his waistband and was shot at once by a deputy but he wasn’t hit. Instead, the bullet struck the sheet metal fence of a junkyard at Paris Road and East Liberaux, the sheriff said.
The suspect tossed the gun he had over the fence into the junkyard, where it was later found by deputies. It was determined that gun had been reported stolen in New Orleans, the sheriff said. Several witnesses saw Johnson throw the handgun over the sheet metal fence before he surrendered, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
Johnson, who is from New Orleans but had been living with a woman who has an address of 9115 Amour Drive, Chalmette, is on probation after serving time in federal prison for weapons and drug charges, officials said.
“He has a lengthy criminal history,” Sheriff Pohlmann said. “These are the kind of people we have to deal with sometimes. I spoke to him (Johnson) afterward and one of the things he said was he had been shot once previously. He also said he never expected to live to be 28 being involved in the business of weapons and drugs that he has been in.”
“I’m just glad our deputy wasn’t badly injured.”
Johnson was treated at the scene for minor injuries received in the car crash and was taken to University Hospital in New Orleans to be examined. From there he was brought to St. Bernard Parish Prison.
The injured deputy, whose name hasn’t been released, was treated at Tulane Medical Center for minor injuries, the sheriff said after visiting the deputy at the hospital. The sheriff’s car struck by Johnson had extensive damage.
Johnson was booked with three counts of attempted murder of police officers, involving the deputy injured in the wreck and those he pulled a gun on; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; possession of a stolen firearm, flight from an officer, resisting arrest and numerous traffic offenses including reckless operation of a vehicle.
Sheriff’s SWAT team officers train in handgun and rifle use during pursuit situations, using obstacles at shooting range
Maj. David DiMaggio, director of training for the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, says a good way to train officers for handling their weapons in real-life pursuit situations is to use an obstacle course to make them move and work up some stress, getting their heart rate up in the process.
Some members of the department’s SWAT team trained in that environment recently at the private shooting range in eastern St. Bernard Parish which the Sheriff’s Office is allowed to use.
The session included firing handguns and semi-automatic rifles from a vehicle whose windshield was removed, after scaling a wall, while climbing steps and after crawling through a barrel-like trough.
DiMaggio, Lt. Raymond Theriot, who is assistant training director, and department firearms instructors Sheriff’s Deputy Tommy Duplessis and Cpl. David Culpepper supervised the training session. Assisting them as safety officers were Laurence Amberson and Ray Murphy, members of the Reserve Division, and regular force Sgt. Dick Beebe.
Shown firing at targets from a vehicle with the windshield removed are, in the passenger seat, Lt. Chip England, and the driver’s side, Lt. Brent Bourgeois. Shown from behind are, in the driver’s seat, Deputy Brian Canepa and at right Capt. Daniel Doucet.
Doucet and Canepa, who is blocked from sight, are shown on steps, with Culpepper behind them, Canepa vaults over a wall before firing a handgun, while Deputy Jason Spadoni climbs through a trough before firing a handgun, with Theriot at right. Deputy Shane Lulei is in the background speaking with Murphy.
Also, at bottom, Sgt. Stephen Ingargiola is shown about to fire from behind a wall and at top Sgt. Donald Johnson is about to fire. Murphy, Culpepper and Amberson are shown setting up targets for rifle fire.
Englande kneels to fire a rifle and Johnson stands to fire a rifle, with DiMaggio and other instructors near him.