Federal investigation prompts Iberia DA to review criminal cases

Federal investigation prompts Iberia DA to review criminal cases

Posted: Mar 15, 2016 3:59 PM EST Updated: Mar 15, 2016 3:59 PM EST

The federal probe into the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office could reopen hundreds of criminal cases and already has led to the dismissal of one narcotics case, according to the Iberia Parish District Attorney’s Office.

Sheriff Louis Ackal and Lt. Col. Gerald Savoy were indicted last week on conspiracy against rights and depravation of rights charges. Eight former deputies — five narcotics officers, two jail supervisors and a K-9 officer — pleaded guilty over the last few weeks to similar civil rights violations.

The DA mailed 170 letters earlier this month notifying criminal defense attorneys who’ve handled cases involving the first six deputies who pleaded guilty. Hundreds more letters are expected to be mailed addressing the remaining guilty pleas and Ackal and Savoy’s indictments.

The DA’s office has identified all of the attorneys who represented defendants since Ackal took office in 2008, said Iberia Parish District Attorney Bo Duhe.

Duhe says the letters are being mailed “out of an abundance of caution.” It will be up to the defense attorneys to file motions in their cases, but the DA’s office is also reviewing all opened and closed narcotics cases.

“You’re talking about a substantial number of cases that are going to be negatively impacted,” First Assistant District Attorney Rob Vines said. “We’re also going back and looking at closed cases to look at how this information may have impacted our charging decisions and the sanctity of the convictions.”

Duhe expects the letters will mostly affect defendants who went to trial and one of the officers testified against them, or entered a “best interest” plea, perhaps because they thought a jury would convict them because of an officer’s testimony.

“Particularly those officers who admitted they were untruthful in giving their testimony in civil cases, all their testimony are seriously in doubt,” Duhe said.

Only a handful of motions have been filed in response to the federal investigation, but Vines said he expects many more.

At least one narcotics case has been dismissed after a defense attorney asked that a search warrant, and the results of the warrant, be thrown out. The warrant was given based on the testimony of an officer who pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to lie in civil testimony.

Vines expects they will decline to prosecute several more cases that hinge on search warrants issued to deputies who admitted they lied.

 

Posted: Mar 15, 2016, katc.com, “Federal investigation prompts Iberia DA to review criminal cases“, http://www.katc.com/story/31476738/federal-investigation-prompts-iberia-da-to-review-criminal-cases?platform=hootsuite

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