News Releases - July 2009 Archived News Releases          

2009 Redfish Tournament President’s Challenge



July 31, 2009 - A fishing team headed by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won the 2009 Redfish Tournament President’s Challenge on Friday, July 31, taking top honors over a team from the Sheriff’s Office led by Chief Deputy Jimmy Pohlmann, which finished second, and the team of Parish President Craig Taffaro Jr., which finished third. The fishing challenge marked the start of the 2009 pro turnament being held at Gulf Outlet Marina in Chalmette from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2, featuring the best pro fishermen in the South who will compete in 56 teams for a $50,000 prize for first place and which is being filmed by ESPN2 sports network. The group photo shows the teams that competed in the President’s Challenge, led by Pohlmann, at far left, Landrieu, in center and wearing blue T-shirt, and Taffaro, third from right.. Also shown is the Sheriff’s Office team, from left, Chief Pohlmann, Maj, J.J. Vickers,  Lt. Brent Bourgeois and Mike Schneida. Shown holding the fish sculpture first-place prize are the winning team, with Landrieu watching as his son, Will Landrieu, far right, holds the trophy with Ryan Cook, left, and Daniel Cook, middle, both of Mandeville. St. Bernard is the only Louisiana stop on the pro Redfish tour. A tailgate party will be held each day of the Redfish tournament, with activities for all on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gulf Outlet Marina. Returning again this year is the popular “Splash Dog” competition where dogs compete for the longest jump. No dogs allowed at the event unless registered and competing in this competition. At 3 p.m. each day the main event is the angler’s live weigh-in filmed for ESPN2. The public is invited to come out to enjoy all the events. Free bus shuttles, including the Gulf Coast Trolley, will be provided on Saturday and Sunday from Nunez Community College to the Gulf Outlet Marina. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTOS.



Man gets 5-year prison sentence for having sex with two adopted children

Jul 30, 2009 - In one of the oldest criminal cases St. Bernard Parish authorities were still dealng with, a disabled musician was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday, July 28, after pleading guilty to sexual battery on a juvenile boy and possession of child pornography in a case pre-dating Hurricane Katrina. And the man’s son, a suspended Jefferson Parish school teacher, still faces trial for possession of the most extensive child pornography collection ever recovered in St. Bernard Parish.

Robert Carmouche, 59, a former Chalmette resident now living at 1213 Sandra Drive in Metairie, was sentenced on he sexual battery and child pornography charges by state District Judge Manny Fernandez, who ordered 5-year sentences on each guilty plea and they will be served concurrently. Carmouche, first arrested in February 2005, allegedly had sex with two juvenile boys but pleaded guilty to one count of oral sexual battery. Part of the sentence also requires Carmouche to pay $10,000 to both under-age boys, who are now adults. Carmouche, free on $50,000 bond, must report Dec. 1 to St. Bernard Parish Prison and from there will be assigned to a state prison by the Department of Corrections. After Carmouche’s first arrest he was rebooked within weeks on 221 counts of possessing child pornography and he pleaded guilty to one count.

In a related investigation in 2005, Carmouche’s son, Kevin Hollis Carmouche, 31, who was a fifth-grade teacher in the Jefferson Parish school system, was arrested for possession of child pornography and still awaits trial in St. Bernard. The son was booked in March 2005 with 2,440 counts of possession of child pornography in what Sheriff Jack Stephens said was the most extensive seizure ever of such material in St. Bernard Parish. The son, who is also free on bond, now lives at 3910 I-10 Service Road in Metairie. The younger Carmouche remains suspended from his teaching job in a Metairie public school since his arrest. The sheriff said authorities didn’t have any evidence students from the school were involved in the case.




Sheriff’s Office receives $1.9 million to fund 14 new deputies over a 3-year-period from federal grant

Jul 28, 2009 - St. Bernard Parish’s Sheriff Office will receive nearly $1.9 million to hire 14 new deputies over a 3-year funding period from a federal grant to provide more police on the streets; the parish’s total was the third highest among 12 grants given in Louisiana totaling more than $12 million, Sheriff Jack Stephens said.

“This is great news for us and could make a significant impact in helping suppress crime in our parish,’’ Sheriff Stephens said of the money provided by the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Recovery program. It is a competitive grant program that gives funding directly to law enforcement agencies to help create and preserve jobs and to increase their community policing capacity and crime-prevention efforts.

The Sheriff’s Office, through its grant-writing team, had applied for the federal grant. “We appreciate the help of our congressional delegation including Congressman Melancon, who represents St. Bernard, and Louisiana’s U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter,’’ the sheriff said. The additional funding for grants was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the Stimulus Act or Recovery Act, which Rep. Melancon voted for in Congress. Nationally, about 1,000 state and local agencies, more than 10 from Louisiana, received $1 billion in grants to retain officers threatened by possible layoffs or hire new officers across the country.

In St. Bernard, the grant of $1,892,352 covers 100 percent of the salary and benefits for 14 new sheriff’s deputies for three years. Local police departments receiving grants will be required to retain the grant-funded positions for a fourth year, which in St. Bernard’s case gives the parish’s tax base time to grow back from Hurricane Katrina and reach a point where the Sheriff’s Office can afford to pick up the cost.

Sheriff Stephens said the money is particularly useful in St. Bernard because the parish is still rebuilding from the devastation of the hurricane. The Sheriff’s Office lost personnel in the form of officers who left after their homes were ruined and loss of tax base because of businesses which haven’t returned. “We had 400 employees before the storm and about 160 afterward,’’ Stephens said. “We have worked to rebuild our force and we are now employing about 280’’ in a situation in which the number of arrests haven’t appreciably decreased despite a lower population. “We don’t have the tax base to afford 14 new deputies and we can use them all. These people will go on the front line with other deputies and increase our ability to suppress crime.”

Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann, second in command to the sheriff, said the money will likely be available before the end of the year and in the meantime the Sheriff’s Office will open the hiring process for deputies. Hiring more deputies will enable the department to devote more people toward dealing with a drug problem in the New Orleans area that brings more pressure on St. Bernard.

Rep. Melancon said in a statement, “Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines in protecting our communities and responding to emergencies and disasters. This Recovery Act funding will help the St. Bernard and St. Mary Sheriff’s Departments, (which also received funding in Melancon’s district) to add and retain the manpower needed to fight crime more effectively. Melancon added, “These federal grants will provide much needed support to state and local government budgets, helping to fill in the current shortfalls and ensure critical law enforcement dollars aren’t slighted.” When the new federal funding was announced in March, Melancon encouraged Louisiana law enforcement agencies to apply for a share of the $1 billion in COPS hiring grants. 12 Louisiana law enforcement agencies were awarded $12,125,448 in Recovery Act funding to support 88 new officers.





Funnel Cloud In St. Bernard

A tornado funnel cloud was spotted in eastern St. Bernard Parish during a rainfall about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, but there weren't any reports of it touching down or causing damage, St. Bernard Parish sheriff's officials said. Photo by Errol Schultz.



Six arrests made in two separate home burglaries in Chalmette

Jul 24, 2009 - Six people were arrested in connection with two separate home burglaries in St. Bernard Parish, four on burglary charges and two for possession of stolen property, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Gary Bruno, 45, 3020 Lloyds Ave., Chalmette, when arrested by sheriff’s detectives the day of the burglary on Wednesday, July 22, was wearing a blood-covered shirt and had fresh cuts on a hand allegedly received when breaking a glass door during a break-in on West Prosper Street.  Also arrested in that burglary was Aaron Saucier, 25, who also lives at 3020 Lloyds Ave. Power tools with blood on them and other items allegedly stolen in the burglary were recovered in a shed at the Lloyds Avenue address.

Angel Sentilles, 46, mother of Saucier and a resident at 3020 Lloyds, and Ronald Snow, 47, also of the same address, were booked with possession of stolen property after Sentilles said Bruno had brought the property to the residence. Bruno and Saucier are being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of $25,000 bonds each. Sentilles and Snow were released on bonds, but the amounts weren’t available.

In the other burglary arrests, Ryan Clague, 34, 3313 Veronica St., Chalmette, was booked Tuesday, July 21, on an arrest warrant charging him in connection with a July 1 burglary on Derbigny Street in Chalmette. Jason Holloway, 25, who also had lived at the 3020 Lloyds Avenue address where the four people were arrested in connection with the separate Prosper Street burglary, had been arrested July 1 for the Derbigny Street burglary. Both Clague and Holloway are being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bonds set at $25,000 each.




Rising level of violence in domestic cases spurs Sheriff and Battered Women’s Shelter officials to joint effort

Jul 22, 2009 - Concerned by an escalating level of violence in domestic disturbance cases in St. Bernard Parish over the last 17 months, including eight people shot – three who were murdered, two killed themselves and three who were injured - the Sheriff’s Office and officials at the Battered Women’s Shelter in Chalmette intend a joint effort to help victims remove themselves from abusive situations.

Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann, second in command to Sheriff Jack Stephens, and Gail Gowland, executive director of the Battered Women’s Shelter, said they want to help victims understand there are options before abuse turns to murder or serious injury.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to calls of domestic violence disturbance will make people aware of the services offered by the Battered Women’s Shelter, which provides both in-residence help including a place to stay and non-residence aid such as counseling or help in obtaining a restraining order against someone in cases where people are trying to extract themselves from abusive relationships.

Pohlmann said, “We will work on educating the general public’’ about options available to domestic violence victims. “They have assistance available and we will give information to victims,’’ Pohlmann said. The Sheriff’s Office will also submit domestic violence information to he Battered Women’s Shelter, he said.

People seeking help can call the Battered Women’s Shelter at (504) 277-3177 or the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office at 271-2501 and they will be referred to the shelter.

Officials from the shelter recently met with sheriff’s officials about the incidents of violence and what can be done, Pohlmann and Gowland said.

Also, the Sheriff’s Office has applied for a federal grant seeking money to devote a sheriff’s investigator fulltime to domestic violence cases and crimes against women in general, Pohlmann said.

Gowland, who has headed he Battered Women’s Shelter since the mid-1990s, said she hopes increasing cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office - which is on the forefront of responding to domestic problems - can help the situation.

“We want more women to take advantage of the services available,’’ at the shelter, Gowland said. “Not only residential services but the non-residential also.’’ Women from St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and other parishes live at St. Bernard’s Battered Women’s Shelter, which doesn’t reveal its address in Chalmette. An average stay is 45 days, officials said. More than half of the residents are children.

Gowland said she sees increasing levels of violence in domestic disturbance cases. “There are more incidents of women requiring medical care because of domestic violence’’ in recent times, Gowland said. “It’s not just here in St. Bernard. It’s all over.”

She and program coordinator Santa Aaaron said stress caused by the post-Hurricane Katrina day-to-day problems including entire families living in small FEMA trailers with virtually no privacy have added to the problems of increasing violence in this area.

“A lot of people think it’s an anger management issue’’ among some men that leads to increased violence against women, Gowland said. “It’s not. Men don’t beat their boss’’ at work, she said. “But they take it out on the women and children.’’

Pohlmann agrees the level of violence in domestic cases is rising and is made worse by money problems, drug and alcohol abuse and other problems of the post-storm era. “When life gets harder for some people they wrongly take it out on those they are closest to,’’ he said.

In St. Bernard, there have been five incidents of shootings, totaling eight people shot, in domestic cases in 17 months. In February 2008, a Chalmette man allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend, then himself, in an apparent murder-suicide. In November 2008, a woman in Meraux admitted she shot and killed a man she lived with as he slept, saying she had been beaten by him and feared he was going to hurt her children. She awaits trial. In January 2009, a Violet man was arrested and now awaits trial after allegedly shooting his wife, who survived, and shooting and killing the woman’s adopted daughter. In February 2009, a juvenile boy in Violet allegedly shot his juvenile step-sister, who survived, then shot and killed himself. In June 2009, a Chalmette man shot and seriously wounded his girlfriend with a shotgun at close range and he awaits trial.

There have also been several cuttings and beatings in domestic cases during that period, although no figures were available.

One of the services St. Bernard deputies will inform victims of domestic violence about is the state Crime Victims Reparations program in which money is available from a fund to assist victims of violent crimes with unrecoverable costs.

Pohlmann was appointed by the governor in April to the state Crime Victims Reparations board and said he encourages St. Bernard Parish victims who meet the criteria to apply for consideration of reparations.

The victim reparations coordinator for St. Bernard is Sheriff’s Det. Lt. Jennifer Turnage, who can be reached at (504) 278-7656. She can provide assistance to victims of violent crime who ask for help in filling out application forms. Some domestic violence victims have been given money from the fund to move away to other areas to escape a situation, Turnage said.

There are several requirements to qualify for help from the victims’ fund: The crime must happen in Louisiana or involve a Louisiana resident in another state that doesn’t have such a victim compensation program; it must be reported to a law enforcement agency within 72 hours unless there is a valid reason it couldn’t; and the victim must cooperate in an investigation.

But a major problem in domestic violence cases, according to Gowland, is many victims don’t report it to police and don’t want an investigation leading to their partner being arrested and possibly going to prison. “Fear of retaliation is a main reason,’’ Gowland said, but she added many women victims still love the men and “they just want the abuse to stop.’’

Others don’t have jobs and worry what would happen to their children and them if the man is arrested and his paycheck stops, she said. The shelter offers help in getting jobs and working toward independent housing, Gowland said.




Sheriff’s Office seeks suspect who had vehicle used in armed robbery of a St. Bernard diner in which the stolen money was left behind

Jul 20, 2009 - St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s detectives are seeking a suspect who was in possession of a vehicle reported stolen in Houston last week which was used in the armed robbery of a restaurant on Saturday, July 18 -  an unusual case in which four men tied up two employees and a customer but in their haste to leave left behind the bag of stolen money, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office at (504) 271-2501.

Several sheriff’s detectives are going to Houston to interview witnesses in an attempt to find information on suspect Fernando Cortez Lopez. He not only was in possession of a stolen 2006 gray Dodge Durango used in the robbery at the Gold Star Diner in the 1100 block of Bayou Road in eastern St. Bernard but somehow was able to register the vehicle in Houston through a title company, Pohlmann said.

“We have some good information and we are working leads in Texas,’’ Pohlmann said. Detectives want to establish whether one of two robbers who were armed is the same man who registered the vehicle in Houston on July 14. Cortez Lopez, if that is his actual name, used a Mexican drivers’ license in the registration process. The vehicle was reported stolen on July 15.

“It’s unusual in St. Bernard to have a take-over robbery like this in which the owner of a business is tied up,’’ Pohlmann said. He said a retired FBI agent who had gone to eat at the diner helped foil the robbery when he surprised the four men by going to the back of the diner while looking for service as the criminals were tying up the owner and an employee. The would-be robbers tied him up but he ran back to the dining room and in the confusion the robbers fled and left the bag of stolen money.

The four robbers, two of whom seemed to be lookouts, entered the Gold Star Diner about 11 a.m. on July 18 and after entering two drew guns on the owner and an employee, taking them to the back of the diner at gunpoint. The men then tied up the customer who had entered the restaurant and walked back to the kitchen. They then went into the office to find money but at some point the customer got away and fled back to the dining room, which disrupted the robbery. Another customer went outside and got the Texas license plate number on the Dodge Durango that two of the men drove away in. It wasn’t known whether the other two robbers escaped in a separate vehicle or met up with the other two. 

Sheriff’s officials have said at least some of the men involved in the robbery may have been working recently on the boats that sail from the fishing villages of eastern St. Bernard. A surveillance camera at the Gold Star Diner captured the incident and still photos from the video are being showed to people in an attempt to identify the men.




Four Men Sought by St. Bernard Sheriff's Office for Robbery of the Gold Star Diner in Poydras


Jul 18, 2009
- According to Sheriff's deputies, four men are being sought for the armed robbery of the Gold Star Diner in Poydras. At least two of the suspects had guns. 

According to St. Benard Parish Sheriff's Office Chief James Pohlmann, four men walked into the Gold Star Diner in the 1100 block of Bayou Road near Poydras, Saturday around 11 AM and threaten employees with guns.  At least one customer and two employees were tied up during the robbery. Then they forced an employee to open a safe.  Altough the employee was forced to open the safe, sheriff's deputies believe the men got away without the money.  No one was injuried during the robbery.

These men are considered armmed and dangerous and the public is encouraged not to confront these individuals but only contact the Sheriff's Ofice with any details.  Sheriff's Deputies are looking for 2006 white Dodge Durango with the Texas license plate TFR 014. According to vehicle records, the truck is registered to Fernando Lopez and deputies believe the vehicle is still in the area. 

If anyone has any information, they are asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 271-2501.



Man who lived in Chalmette for 6 months accused of rapes in Louisiana and Miss.; no charges in St. Bernard

Jul 15, 2009 - A man who lived in Chalmette from December 2008 until the first week of July is suspected of using a stun gun in rapes on three female college students in Baton Rouge, Hammond and in Mississippi and was captured late Monday in Alabama after a multistate manhunt ended in a car chase, law enforcement officials said.

James H. Crockett, 37, who most recently lived at 3107 Buffon St. in Chalmette, one block east of Paris Road, was the object of the manhunt. Crockett was never arrested in his time in Chalmette and there aren’t any unsolved sexual crimes in the parish, St. Bernard Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann, second in command to Sheriff Jack Stephens, said Tuesday, July 14.

Authorities from Baton Rouge and the Hammond area came to Chalmette on Monday, July 13, looking for Crockett and St. Bernard sheriff’s detectives were involved in obtaining a search warrant from a judge and searching the half-double Crockett had lived in while in Chalmette. Crockett had removed his personal belongings and cleared out, with his landlord saying Crockett was last seen there July 8 after saying he was leaving the area.  Crockett has relatives in the Covington area.

Justin Vickers, a supervisory inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service in Mississippi, said Alabama highway patrolmen saw the suspect driving on the interstate between Birmingham and Huntsville on Monday. Crockett fled when they attempted to pull him over and led officers on a 15-mile chase before crashing.  "The residents of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief that this guy is off the street," Vickers said.

In Hattiesburg, Crockett was wanted for a July 6 sexual assault in which authorities said he broke into a woman's apartment and used a stun gun and handcuffs to subdue her before the attack. He was also wanted in a similar attack one day earlier in Baton Rouge and is suspected in a third recent attack in Hammond. An alert from Crimestoppers, which is offering a $2,500 reward, said he was wanted for attempted aggravated assault and kidnapping in Hammond. Crockett has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for burglary and arrests for being a Peeping Tom and an obscenity charge.




National Night Out Against Crime is Tuesday, Aug. 4; residents can call 278-7628 to register neighborhood party and have a deputy discuss crime prevention tips

Jul 15, 2009 - St. Bernard Parish residents are encouraged to take part in the 26th annual celebration of the National Night Out Against Crime, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Participation, such as holding a block party or any type of gathering of neighbors, is a good way to promote neighborhood spirit and help remind people to look out for suspicious activity in their area and call the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501 if they see something wrong. This is the third year since Hurricane Katrina that National Night Out Against Crime is being observed in St. Bernard.

“St. Bernard is still left with some neighborhoods only partially recovered from Hurricane Katrina,’’ Pohlmann said. “We need residents to look out for one another and be willing to report possible criminal activity in a timely manner so deputies have a good chance of catching thieves in the act or trying to get away. Residents feel the pulse of their neighborhood and learn what looks right and what doesn’t - who is regularly there and who is out of place.” Arrests have been made in numerous cases in the last year because of timely calls to the Sheriff’s Office.

St. Bernard residents should call (504) 278-7628 if they are holding a neighborhood party for the National Night Out observance and a sheriff’s deputy will come out to discuss crime prevention tips and answer questions, said Capt. Charles Borchers, Director of Crime Prevention and the Neighborhood Watch program for the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is also continuing to rebuild its Neighborhood Watch program and urges residents to start a group on their street by calling 278-7628.  “I was very encouraged last year by the amount of people who turned out’’ for neighborhood gatherings in conjunction with the National Night Out Against Crime, Borchers said.

The National Night Out event is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW). Last year's National Night Out campaign involved mire than 30 million nationally, including residents, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

National Night Out is designed to:

► Heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness
► Generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs
► Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
► Send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
►Along with the traditional display of outdoor lights and front porch vigils, cities, towns and neighborhoods celebrate NNO with a variety of events and activities such as: block parties, cookouts, visits from local police and     sheriff’s departments, parades, exhibits, flashlight walks, contests and youth programs.

The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) is a nonprofit, crime prevention organization which works in cooperation with thousands of crime watch groups and law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Since 1981, NATW has been dedicated to the development and growth of organized crime prevention programs nationwide.

National Night Out, 'America's Night Out Against Crime,' was introduced by the Association in 1984. The program was the brainchild of NATW Executive Director Matt A. Peskin.

In an effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts, Peskin said he felt a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally.




79-year Arabi woman missing for 40 hours but found safe in New Orleans after search by Sheriff’s Office, her family and neighbors

Margaret Roubion, 79, of Arabi, sits in a police car speaking with her husband, Anthony Roubion STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTO

Jul 12, 2009 - All’s well that ends well for the Roubion family in Arabi. Margaret Roubion, 79, of Coney Street in Arabi disappeared from her home early Friday, July 10, and was missing for some 40 hours before she was found safe in front of an unoccupied house on North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans late Saturday night, July 11, following an exhaustive search by the Sheriff’s Office, her family and neighbors.

Reported missing by her husband, Anthony Roubion, the woman whom family members said has shown signs of Alzheimer’s disease and had recently found her way to the St. Roch neighborhood in New Orleans where her family lived many years ago, apparently walked and caught buses in New Orleans as she made a journey that ended on the stoop of an unoccupied house at 1013 N. Claiborne Avenue, two blocks from Orleans Avenue.

“It’s great when something this like this has a happy ending,’’ said Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann after sheriff’s deputies had searched for the missing woman both in St. Bernard and in the St. Roch area where there were reports she had been seen on July 10. On the night of July 11, deputies responded into the city on reports she had been seen at several locations and had possibly taken a public bus in New Orleans on July 11.

Family, neighbors and ex-neighbors of the longtime Arabi resident had also been involved in the search, as well as making reward posters and placing them in the St. Roch area including the 1700 block of Spain Street in New Orleans where Mrs. Roubion’s family lived many years ago and it was theorized she might go back there looking for them.

A man and a woman, Kerry Brown and Giezelle Alexis of New Orleans, were riding in a vehicle when they spotted her on Claiborne Avenue before 11 p.m. and remembered her from media stories asking the public to be on the lookout for Mrs. Roubion. “We turned around and went back to her,’’ Brown said at the scene. “I recognized the face’’ of the woman they saw. Alexis said she approached the woman as she sat on a stoop of a house that was unoccupied and asked her if her name was Margaret, which Mrs. Roubion confirmed. The couple called 911 in New Orleans and were transferred to the Communications Division of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office and said they thought they had found the missing woman. Sheriff’s deputies and the family converged to the scene. The woman apparently had gotten into the unoccupied house and brought some belongings inside. But there wasn’t any information on where she had spent the night of July 10 or how specifically she ended up on Claiborne Avenue.

Her husband Anthony Roubion admitted, “I was losing faith’’ that his wife would be found safe. “I prayed to the Blessed Mother because she has always helped me and it worked.’’ Other family members there including sons, Terry and Dennis, said they were relieved to see her. “I was getting scared,’’ Terry Roubion said. Mrs. Roubion was taken for observation to Tulane Medical Center and released to her family early Sunday, July 12.

Neighbors and ex-neighbors of the woman had gathered Saturday, July 11, to make more than 100 posters showing a photo of her and her husband and offering the reward, then a group went to Spain Street, St. Roch Avenue and Music Street in New Orleans to attach posters to utility poles and trees, as well as show them to area residents. Next-door neighbor Tammy Gettys, who has known Margaret Roubion more than 20 years because she was a close friend of Gettys’ mother-in-law, said she and friends Nancy Dickens and Flo Rickard, both of whom are former neighbors, wanted to do something to help so they made the reward posters as well as searched for her the first day she was missing. Gettys and friend Teresa Daigle took the posters to the St. Roch area and put them up.

“She is a nice woman’’ Gettys said of Margaret Roubion. “I would hope someone would pitch in and help do the same if it were my grandmother who was missing.’’




Drunk driver bolts from DWI checkpoint in Chalmette at up to 100 mph, booked with attempted murder of two deputies after a chase ended at his trailer home

Patrick O'Neill, Jr. 41

Jul 12, 2009 - A Chalmette man allegedly driving drunk bolted from a DWI checkpoint in Chalmette when a sheriff’s deputy reached into his vehicle to grab a drink he was holding, speeding up to 100 mph to his  home where he was caught and booked with attempted murder of two deputies and other offenses, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Patrick O’Neill Jr., 41, who has been arrested several times in the past for driving while intoxicated, was taken into custody about 10:10 p.m. Thursday at his trailer home at 2415 Ramoncita Drive in Chalmette, several minutes after he fled a DWI checkpoint on West Judge Perez Drive near Jean Lafitte Parkway.  O’Neill, who deputies said admitted to having had a beer and taking two Vicodin pain pills, was holding a daiquiri in a hand as he approached the checkpoint manned by numerous St. Bernard sheriff’s deputies conducting the DWI checkpoint.

A deputy who reached into the vehicle to grab the drink was partially inside the vehicle as O’Neill sped off but was pulled to safety by another deputy.  O’Neill then tried to run over another deputy to get away but no one was injured. The driver, followed by deputies, approached speeds of up to 100 mph as he fled and made his to the trailer home, where deputies entered and arrested him.  O’Neill was alone in the Acura he was driving. 

O’Neill was booked into St. Bernard Prison on two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, driving while intoxicated, aggravated flight from officers, possession of a small amount of cocaine, battery on police during his arrest and on traffic charges. He is being held without pending an appearance before a judge. There was no information on the status of previous DWI charges O’Neill has been booked with in the past.

Two other drivers were also arrested on DWI charges as a result of the checkpoint, a practice which the Sheriff’s Office has been conducting in an effort to crack down on motorists who drive drunk.  “We will continue to try to remove such drivers from the road because they are a danger to themselves and others,’’ Pohlmann said.




Man dies of head injuries in fall from balcony at a Chalmette apartment

Jul 12, 2009 - A man has died in a hospital from head injuries received in an apparent fall from a small balcony at a Chalmette apartment early July 7.

Christi Navidad Grant Ponce, 29, was pronounced dead in University Hospital in New Orleans, where he was taken in critical condition after the 12:30 a.m. incident at 3015 Jean Lafitte Pkwy. in Chalmette according to Chief James Pohlmann of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. The victim, who had been staying at the apartment for several days, was found lying on the ground on a pillow and bed sheet, bleeding from his head, ears and nose. Sheriff’s detectives are continuing an investigation but no sign of foul play has been found.

A woman identified as the man’s girlfriend, who spoke only Spanish, said through a translator she was awakened by a loud noise while sleeping and Grant Ponce wasn’t in the bed. She also said the door leading outside to a second-floor small balcony was open and she went out and saw the victim on the ground below. There wasn’t a railing on the balcony.




Neighbors Help in Search for Missing 79-Year-Old Arabi Woman


Jul 11, 2009 - Neighbors and ex-neighbors of Margaret Roubion, 79, of Arabi, who wandered away from her home on Friday, July 10 and has been missing since, prepared and put up posters announcing a $10,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the woman. Anyone seeing her were asked to call the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office at 271-2501. Next-door neighbor Tammy Gettys, right, who has known Margaret Roubion more than 20 years, and friend Teresa Daigle are shown putting a poster on a utility pole on Spain Street in New Orleans, where members of the Roubion family said they believed the missing woman may have gone because her family lived there many years ago and she had been known to go there in the recent past. In the other photo, former neighbor Nancy Dickens and Gettys work on making the posters in Getys’ home while former neighbor Flo Rickard created a web site to receive information. The Sheriff’s Office searched both in St. Bernard Parish and in the area of Spain Street and St. Roch Avenue, talking with residents about the missing woman. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTOS.



St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office asks help in locating a missing 79-year-old Arabi woman who may have wandered away from home; can call 271-2501

Mr. & Mrs Anthony Roubion

Jul 11, 2009 - The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office is trying to find a missing 79-year-old Arabi woman who may have wandered away from home and officials are asking the public’s help by reporting her whereabouts if she is seen.

Margaret Roubion, 220 Coney Drive, Arabi, whose husband reported her missing Friday morning, July 10, is being sought. Anyone with information about her should call the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501.

Roubion, 5-5. 140 pounds with reddish brown hair, may possibly be wearing a white shirt and black slacks, with black shoes, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Her husband said his wife was gone from their home when he awoke about 7 a.m. Friday and she hasn’t been seen since.




Honduran wanted in St. Bernard for $10,000 armed robbery of man trying to buy a used pickup truck

Man wanted in St. Bernard for $10,000 Armed Robbery


Jul 7, 2009
- A warrant alleging armed robbery has been issued for the arrest of a Honduran man who allegedly stole $10,000 in cash at knifepoint in Chalmette from a former co-worker who he was supposed to help buy a used pickup truck, St. Bernard Parish Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Nativdad Garza, 23, who is from Honduras but had been working in this area, allegedly set it up for the 31-year-old victim to purchase the vehicle from a third party in Chalmette. But instead, Garza allegedly robbed his former co-worker of the cash on a Chalmette street the night of June 25. The victim lives in Chalmette but speaks little English.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Garza should call the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501. 

Others may also be involved in the robbery, which happened in the 3700 block of Blanchard Drive in Chalmette as the victim was on his way to see a man who was allegedly selling a used Ford-150 pickup. The victim said through a translator that as he walked he was approached by a GMC SUV occupied by Garza and a woman. Garza then got out - put a knife to his right side and demanded his money. Garza also took his cell phone, broke it into pieces, and threw it away so he couldn’t immediately call for help, said the victim. Sheriff’s detectives, after an investigation, believe the incident happened the way the man described and obtained an arrest warrant signed by a judge.





Man in critical condition with severe head trauma after fall from balcony at a Chalmette apartment

Jul 7, 2009 - A man was hospitalized in critical condition with severe head trauma after apparently falling from a balcony at a Chalmette apartment early Tuesday morning, July 7, Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Christi Navidad Grant Ponce, 29, was taken to in University Hospital in New Orleans after the 12:30 a.m. incident at 3015 Jean Lafitte Pkwy. in Chalmette, where he had been staying for several days. He was found lying on the ground on a pillow and bed sheet, bleeding from his head, ears and nose. Sheriff’s detectives were investigating the incident but little is known about the victim’s background.

A woman identified as the man’s girlfriend, who spoke only Spanish, said through a translator that she was awakened by a loud noise while sleeping and said Grant Ponce wasn’t in the bed. She also said the door leading outside to a second-floor balcony was open and she went out and saw the victim on the ground below. There wasn’t a railing on the second-floor balcony, sheriff’s officials said.





Parish first responders honored by BPW club at July 4th bell-ringing ceremony at Liberty Bell Plaza

St. Bernard Parish’s first responders were honored by the parish Business and Professional Women’s Club during the annual bell-ringing ceremony at Liberty Bell Plaza in Chalmette as part of the July 4th celebration. Representing first responders were, from left, Janie Fuller of Acadian Ambulance Service, Fire Chief Thomas Stone and Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann, second in command to Sheriff Jack Stephens; as well as Deborah Keller of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, who moderated the ceremonies. Also shown Chief Stone and Chief Deputy Sheriff Pohlmann talk as parish residents who attended the ceremony take turns ringing the replica Liberty Bell. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTOS.


Jul 5, 2009 - St. Bernard Parish’s first responders, including the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department and the emergency medical service workers of Acadian Ambulance, were honored by the parish’s Business and Professional Women’s Club in a July 4th bell-ringing ceremony at Liberty Bell Plaza in Chalmette.  

 The bell has been rung each July 4th since 1979 after a replica Liberty Bell was dedicated at the plaza on West Judge Perez Drive near the site of parish government.; The ceremony begins St. Bernard’s Independence Day celebration.  There was a presentation of the American flag by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7194.

Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann, second in command to Sheriff Jack Stephens; Fire Chief Thomas Stone and Janie Fuller of Acadian Abulance Service were guests for the ceremony, representing the parish first responders. They and Parish President Craig Taffaro Jr. spoke about the job performed by first responders in keeping the parish safe.

“Keeping with our parish theme of celebrating all that is good about our community, it is only fitting we choose a happy occasion to pay tribute to the men and women who risk their lives for the safety and well-being of others,’’ said Deborah Keller of the BPW and a member of the parish Planning Commission, who directed the patriotic program. “While we enjoy many personal freedoms because of Independence Day 233 years ago,’’ Keller said, “every day we trust our safety and protection to (first responders) who have chosen careers of service and have earned the name first responder in our parish : law enforcement, the Fire Department and emergency medical personnel.’’

Pohlmann said it’s easy “to take first responders for granted until you need them,’’ but said the Sheriff’s Office is there to help people in many different ways. Pohlmann said the department has restarted nearly all facets that were operating before Hurricane Katrina, including Neighborhood Watch programs, the Citizens Police Academy, sub-stations at all entrances to parish lines, the adult prison and juvenile detention center, programs in schools and other features.

Stone, fire chief for nearly 20s years, said the aftermath of the hurricane was difficult for firefighters but he is pleased some fire stations have been rebuilt and reopened and he can’t wait to get the others open. “We will continue strong service’’ to St. Bernard, Stone said.

Fuller said Acadian Ambulance was established in he 1970s and has its own EMS academy to train its personnel. “Our job would be a lot more difficult without the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department assistance,’’ she said.

Taffaro said it is “appropriate to recognizet he men and women willing to put their lives on the line’’ each day for the residents of St. Bernard Parish.

The public attending the ceremony was invited by Keller to take part in the bell-ringing which many did.




Violet man booked with forcible rape of a juvenile

Jul 2, 2009 - A Violet man has been booked on an arrest warrant charging forcible rape of a juvenile girl, which allegedly happened last December, St. Bernard Parish Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

Byron Curtis, 22, was arrested Monday, June 29, on a warrant signed by a judge. He is being held in St. Bernard Parish Prison in lieu of bond set at $100,000. The girl, 15 years old, alleged she was walking when she was pulled into a gutted home in eastern St. Bernard Parish and raped in December 2008. She told detectives from the sheriff’s Juvenile Division that she knew the first name of the man, whom she said she knew through a friend. The girl allegedly identified Curtis in a photo lineup and an arrest warrant was obtained from a judge.




Murphy Oil Plant Eemergency Response Drill



Jul 1, 2009 - On Wednesday, July 1, the Murphy Oil USA refinery in Meraux held a coordinated drill to test emergency response plans, using a scenario of lightening striking a storage tank and causing an explosion and fire, which forced the deployment of the plant’s emergency response equipment and personnel. The Sheriff’s Office and the parish Fire Department participated in the exercise, including at the incident command center set up at a Murphy building. In one photo, Bill Turnage, in the red jump suit, of the Security division at Murphy, stands by as a spray of water is directed from a hose toward the storage tank that was on fire in the drill. Also, two workers direct the spray at the tank. Also shown are Murphy officials at the incident command center set up to handle the emergency. Maj. Mitch Roussell of the Sheriff’s Office sits at the table at left in the foreground. STEVE CANNIZARO PHOTOS.


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