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COVID-19 UPDATE No. 3

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office partially reopened its facilities on Monday, May 18. Many members of our staff have returned to their offices, but others continue to work remotely.

Anyone wishing to enter parish government facilities must have their temperature taken by parish personnel upon entering and wear a mask while inside. Click here to read Jefferson Parish government’s Phase One reopening plan.

During this period, we ask that you contact us at 504.361.2854, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or via email at info@jpda.us, in order to schedule an appointment to meet with a member of our staff.

 

 

COVID-19 UPDATE

The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office remains operational and committed to serving our community.

In accordance with all orders and directives issued by our State and local authorities we are encouraging members of the public to contact our office via phone at 504.368.1020 or email, info@jpda.us, instead of appearing in person.

We have attached links to our criminal justice partners for your convenience:

Henry Lee, renowned forensic scientist, visits Jeff Parish DA’s office

Dr. Henry Lee, a renowned forensic scientist, visited the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office on Friday (June 7) at the invitation of DA Paul D. Connick Jr., to speak to prosecutors on crime scene reconstruction and forensic analysis. (JPDA photos)

It was 1986 and Paul D. Connick Jr. was a young Jefferson Parish assistant district attorney prosecuting a complex two-defendant murder case when he first sought advice from Dr. Henry Lee.

A renowned forensic scientist who immigrated from Taiwan in 1965, Dr. Lee had already established his international reputation in criminal investigations in Connecticut, where he worked his way up as chief criminologist with the state police to becoming that agency’s commissioner.

Connick decided to attempt to lure Dr. Lee down South.

“I bought 200 pounds of crawfish and shipped them to him,” Connick joked.

“That’s a good lawyer,” Dr. Lee quipped in response.

At Connick’s invitation, Dr. Lee traveled to Louisiana again this week to present a course on crime scene reconstruction and forensic analysis to Jefferson Parish assistant district attorneys as part of their continuing legal education requirements. The JPDA Media Room was filled to capacity with prosecutors and employees during the presentation on Friday (June 7).

Dr. Lee’s involvement in the 1986 murder case was the start of a decades-long relationship. DA for more than 20 years now, Connick has consulted with Dr. Lee on numerous high-profile murder cases, of late including the murder and dismemberment of French Quarter dancer Jaren Lockhart.

“In this business, in this line of work, we have to get it right,” Connick told his prosecutors. “So I want people I can trust to tell me we got it right. With Henry, I know.”

The namesake for the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven, Conn., Dr. Lee has consulted on more than 8,000 criminal cases in 47 countries. In the United States, he has worked on crimes such as the O.J. Simpson case and the re-investigation of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He helped debunk the conspiracy theory that President Bill Clinton was responsible for the death of Vince Foster, who committed suicide in 1983. Dr. Lee also helped confirm President Clinton’s White House tryst with Monica Lewinsky.

Weaving advice with anecdotal stories from his career, Dr. Lee recounted many of the high-profile cases during his presentation.

“I only do one thing: Make the impossible possible,” Dr. Lee told the audience.

Kenner woman faces 20 years in prison in charity raffle scam targeting the elderly

A Kenner woman who stole $1,340 from unsuspecting elderly people by selling them fake raffle tickets will be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Tammy Marie Davis, 49, pleaded guilty as charged on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 19) to 16 felony counts of exploitation of the infirmed, bank fraud, possession of cocaine, and to misdemeanor counts of theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft from an aged or disabled person. The crimes occurred in Kenner in 2016.

Davis struck up conversations with her victims during which she asked about their doctors, according to the Kenner Police Department. She then would lie to the victims, telling them she knew the doctor and that his child was suffering from an illness or disease.

She further asserted she was selling raffle tickets to a fundraising event, to raise money for the ill child. In several cases, the victims only had $100 bills, which they provided as payment for the tickets. Davis offered to make change, taking the $100 bills but never returning.

In one such case, Davis approached a 73-year-old woman at a credit union, asking the victim if she recognized her from a doctor’s office. Davis asserted she was selling the raffle tickets, at $10 per. The victim only had a $100 bill, which she gave to Davis. Davis stole the money.

The bank fraud charge stems from her befriending an 81-year-old man suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. She accompanied the man to his bank, where she forged his signature on a check made out to “cash.”

When Davis attempted to cash the check, a teller noticed the hand-writing differences. David fled before police arrived. The victim, meanwhile, needed medical attention because of his illness.

Police were able to identify Davis through the Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, leading to her arrest on May 16, 2016. She was serving parole through December 2017 for a purse snatching conviction.

Questioned by Kenner police, Davis confessed to the crimes and said she needed money to feed her crack cocaine addiction. During the arrest, officers found a rock of crack cocaine in her pocket and a glass pipe used to smoke crack. Police also found numbered raffle tickets in her pockets, her car and her apartment.

Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court accepted the guilty pleas. Davis will be returned to court Feb. 16, when Judge Sullivan will sentence her to 20 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish prosecuted the case.

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Two-time felon has prison sentence upped to 75 years

A Metairie man who already was serving a 50-year prison sentence for shooting a woman 11 times during an Avondale home invasion saw his punishment increase to 75 years on Friday (Sept. 16).

Danny “Noonie” Saulny, 25, was convicted as charged in June of attempted second-degree murder, home invasion and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for the crime he carried out in 2014. For that, he received a 50-year prison sentence, the maximum.

On Friday, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court ruled that Saulny is a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law. Noting how Saulny shot a woman 11 times, Judge Regan vacated the 50-year sentence he handed down in July and resentenced Saulny to 75 years.

“The court was particularly appalled by the cruel nature of the crime, in that the victim was shot 11 times,” Judge Regan said in announcing the new sentence. “What made it worse, in the court’s opinion, is the victim knew Danny Saulny and went to school with him. The victim was shot and left for dead. It was by the grace of god that the victim survived.”

The victim, then a 23-year-old woman, was accosted in her kitchen in the 100 block of Madiera Drive on Jan. 13, 2014, as she was preparing a meal, according to trial testimony. Saulny and an unnamed cohort entered and told her “give me everything you got,” the victim testified.

She recognized Saulny, whom she knew from elementary school by the nickname “Noonie.” Saulny dragged her from the kitchen to a bedroom, where the gunmen robbed and shot her. She remained on the floor motionless as the gunmen fled, and she then went to a neighbor’s home, where the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was notified.

She underwent several surgeries, and remained in a coma after the shooting. “God kept me here for a reason, and I am happy I testified against you to get you off the street and keep you from harming anyone else,” the victim testified during the July 18 sentencing hearing, when Judge Regan handed down the 50-year sentence.

On Friday, prosecutors sought a ruling declaring Saulny as a double offender. Judge Regan ruled that prosecutors met their burden in proving that Saulny was, in fact, a double offender. Saulny’s latest known victim was not present.

Saulny’s prior offense was a 2011 conviction of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, being an aggravated second-degree battery. Saulny pleaded guilty to a shooting-related incident and received a six-year prison sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans man convicted of possessing, distributing heroin

A New Orleans man who already served prison time for illegal narcotics was convicted Wednesday night (Sept. 14) of being a heroin dealer in connection with the 50 grams of the narcotic that deputies found during the investigation, most of it stashed in the Metairie motel room he shared with his then-girlfriend.

Clarence Dixon, 34, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury of possession with intent to distribute heroin and of attempted possession of cocaine. Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court plans to sentence Dixon in October.

Dixon and his then-girlfriend, Jenny Montecino, 34, of Metairie, were arrested on Jan. 23, 2015, when about 9:15 p.m., they were pulled over in a traffic stop in the 6500 block of Airline Drive. Two reserve Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies initiated the stop after noticing the license plate registration had expired for the couple’s 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, according to testimony.

Dixon and Montecino had active attachments for their arrests and were taken into custody. Montecino, who also was driving without insurance and with an expired driver’s license, readily admitted she had .8 grams of cocaine and five grams of heroin stashed in her underwear, reserve Deputy Salvador Provenzano testified.

Following the traffic stop, Montecino immediately said the narcotics belonged to Dixon, the father of her child. She testified that Dixon ordered her to “stuff it” in her underwear about 15 minutes before they were pulled over, as she drove him to make a drug transaction.

“He didn’t want to hold them (the illegal narcotics) because of the repercussions of his background,” she testified Wednesday. “He didn’t want to get into trouble.”

She testified that she didn’t want to take the blame for his narcotics, either. “I didn’t want to get in trouble,” Montecino testified. “It wasn’t mine.”

During the traffic stop, Provenzano noticed Dixon in the front passenger seat, furtively handling a large amount of cash that he stuffed in a purse in the center console, he testified.

The investigation lead the detectives to the couple’s motel room in the 5700 block of Airline Drive, where the couple acquired a room in Montecino’s name about six weeks earlier, according to testimony.

The detectives found a digital scale, two bottles of room sanitizer the deputies said could be used to cut or dilute narcotics and Dixon’s identification card. They found 44.9 grams of heroin in a red plastic container on a shelf in the closet, Detective Nicholas Buttone testified.

Pursuant to a court order, the detectives seized $2,568 in currency as proceeds from illegal narcotics sales, in dominations ranging from $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills, Buttone testified.

Montecino pleaded guilty on Oct. 15 to simple possession of heroin and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. She testified against Dixon, per her plea agreement, and faces a punishment ranging from probation up to 15 years in prison. She will receive her sentence next month.

She testified that she feared Dixon, and that he purchased the Pathfinder from a man she identified only as “Jason.” The vehicle was registered to a Pineville, La., woman whom she did not know, and she also testified that she drove Dixon to conduct his narcotics transactions.

Dixon’s attorney argued that the narcotics belonged to Montecino, whom he said falsely blamed her boyfriend to save herself.

Dixon pleaded guilty to similar offenses – possession of heroin and possession of cocaine – in the 24th Judicial District Court in March 2010 and received a 5-year prison sentence, records show. Those convictions stem from his June 2009 arrest, after deputies found .8 grams of heroin and 4.7 grams of crack cocaine in a Shrewsbury Court residence.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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Jefferson Parish prosecutors in Harvey Hustlers cases receive top FBI awards

Two Jefferson Parish prosecutors who are working with the joint local and federal task force that dismantled the notorious Harvey Hustlers gang, sending dozens of extremely violent drug dealers to prison for as long as 120 years, received 2016 FBI Director’s Awards for their ongoing work in the case.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Seth Shute were among the New Orleans-area local and federal law enforcement officials to receive the award in the Outstanding Criminal Investigation category on Thursday (Sept. 15) from FBI Director James Comey, during a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Members of the FBI New Orleans Gang Task Force, which initiated the investigation seven years ago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office also were named to receive the awards.

The Director’s Awards, considered to be among the most prestigious accolades within the FBI, are given annually to Bureau employees and others to recognize their exemplary contributions and service to their communities. This year’s recipients include men and women who investigated deadly terrorist and cyber attacks, designed innovative technology and training and provided exceptional service to colleagues and victims of crime, according to the FBI.

Read the FBI New Orleans announcement here.

Considered the scourge of some West Bank neighborhoods, the Harvey Hustlers traces its roots to the 1980s in the Scotsdale subdivision, from where a core group of members oversaw a narcotics distribution ring. The gang enlisted affiliates from other West Bank neighborhoods to help import the narcotics into Jefferson Parish from as far as Texas and to distribute it in the area.

The Harvey Hustlers had an enforcement arm known as the Murder Squad, which used violence to protect its illegal activities. Numerous homicides were tied to the gang, including those of an 81-year-old Bridge City woman and a 58-year-old Marrero man, neither of whom was the intended target.

The FBI New Orleans Gang Task Force and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office initiated the investigation in 2009, leading to more than 65 criminal indictments in state and federal courts. Since the investigation began, Jefferson Parish saw a 39-percent decrease in its homicide rate through 2015, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office collaborated in deciding the jurisdiction in which the cases would be prosecuted, depending on whether federal or state law could provide the more appropriate punishment.

Convictions in Jefferson Parish’s 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, and U.S. District Court in New Orleans, led to sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. The state and federal charges ranged from heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine distribution, racketeering, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, firearms offenses, homicide and murder-in-aid of racketeering.

In the Jefferson Parish, Freese and Shute prosecuted more than 30 Harvey Hustlers and their affiliates. Of them, 21 defendants were charged last year by a state grand jury in a sweeping 30-count racketeering and conspiracy case that includes a pending second-degree murder case.

Among them was Robert Williams, a Harvey Hustlers leader who was convicted at trial and sentenced in January to 120 years in prison. Each of the Harvey Hustlers who already had prior criminal convictions received no less than 20-year prison sentences in the Jefferson Parish cases.

This is the second time this year the Harvey Hustlers task force has been recognized. In February, New Orleans’ Metropolitan Crime Commission awarded the task force its 2016 Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.

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Avondale man pleads guilty to possessing, distributing child pornography

A 20-year-old Avondale man was sentenced Tuesday (July 19) to 10 years in prison, after he admitted he possessed and distributed child pornography.

Taylor Bourgeois also will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years, beginning on the day he is released from prison, 24th Judicial District Court Judge Lee Faulkner ordered.

Bourgeois’ illegal activities came to light in February, when he was observed discussing in an online chatroom that he raped a 4-year-old girl. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children passed a tip about Bourgeois’ assertions to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit, which, working with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, opened an investigation that led to Bourgeois’ home, according to the arrest report.

After obtaining a search warrant on March 7, state and Sheriff’s Office agents and members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found a computer and two cellular devices in Bourgeois’ bedroom – along with six potted marijuana plants being grown in a cardboard box in his closet and bagged marijuana weighing 5.2 grams.

Bourgeois, who worked at an ice cream parlor in Westwego, confessed to downloading and possessing child pornography, which was stored on a cellular device, and to sharing several hundred images and videos through a file sharing website, according to the report.

Investigators uncovered images that included infants and girls under age 13 being raped by adult men, according to the report.

He pleaded guilty as charged Tuesday to three counts of possessing child pornography involving children under age 13, three counts of distributing child pornography involving children under age 13 and one count of possessing child pornography involving children between the ages of 13 and 17.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of the seven counts. Judge Faulkner ran them concurrently.

Bourgeois told agents that he purchased marijuana seeds about two months prior to his arrest and began growing them in the cardboard box he equipped with a light and fan, according to the arrest report. He also purchased marijuana that was recovered from his bedroom.

He also pleaded guilty Tuesday to two misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession. He received two 15-day sentences for those offenses, run concurrently with the 10-year sentences.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Smith prosecuted the case.

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