Judge upholds police employee firing

A state District Court judge has upheld the termination of a Baton Rouge police employee accused of violating a policy that forbids department employees from associating with “known criminals.”

Former Police Chief Dewayne White fired Alicia M. Moore, a criminal information specialist, in late 2011 after an internal investigation determined she misled her superiors about her relationship with a man arrested on drug and weapon charges.

The investigation found Moore interfered with a traffic stop involving Lafanery Reado, a man who had already been convicted of second-degree battery in 1999, according to police records. In addition to conduct unbecoming of an officer, Moore was fired for her relationship with Reado.

Baton Rouge Police Department policy states that “no member will knowingly associate on a continuing social basis with individuals who have been convicted of any felony without prior written approval of the Chief of Police, or except as part of an authorized investigation.”

Moore, in her appeal to the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, showed that Reado had received a first-time offender pardon in 2008. The Police Department, however, sought to differentiate the first-time offender pardon from a governor’s pardon, and maintained in court filings that Reado had not been relieved of “collateral civil disabilities and restrictions.”

He was still considered a convicted felon under departmental policy, the department claimed.

An attorney for White, John Naquin, argued in court papers that Moore’s actions caused officers to question whether they could trust the department’s Criminal Information Unit. The civil service board upheld Moore’s firing in May, and state District Judge Janice Clark affirmed that decision Wednesday. Clark ruled there was no evidence White had shown ill will in Moore’s firing.

Moore’s attorney, Crystal LaFleur, said Moore is weighing her options and likely will appeal the ruling.

The disciplinary action stemmed from an August 2011 traffic stop in which officers pulled over Reado shortly after midnight near Southern University because he had a license plate light out. Reado had just left Moore’s home and apparently was on the phone with her as he was being pulled over, according to Moore’s termination letter.

The officers became suspicious of Reado after noticing his “furtive” shifting of items in the vehicle, according to police reports. Officers decided to tow the vehicle because Reado did not have proof of insurance or registration, police reports show, and they later found a .22-caliber revolver and crack cocaine in the center console.

The officers contacted the Criminal Information Unit and requested information about Reado’s criminal background and were informed he had only been arrested once for second-degree battery, police reports show. Later investigation revealed Reado, 41, had been other arrested on other counts as well, the reports show.

According to the termination letter, Moore contacted her colleagues in the Criminal Information Unit to find out whether Reado’s information had been run, and she also contacted the arresting officer’s supervisor. An internal investigation determined there had been a “breakdown in communication” between the arresting officer and the Criminal Information Unit operator, and that no criminal activity occurred when the officer received an incomplete criminal history, according to police reports.

Moore also went to the scene of the arrest and told an officer Reado was a hard-working person and a good friend, police records show.

As Reado was being booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on drugs and weapons charges, he requested two numbers from his iPhone, police reports show. As an officer was unlocking the phone, he noticed a text message on the screen — later determined to be from Moore — that read, “Do not let them search your car.”

Moore told her superiors Reado had only been her “yard man,” records show, but a search of their text exchanges suggested the two were in an intimate relationship.

“Maintaining a viable police force requires that all of the different units and departments work together as a team,” Naquin wrote in a court filing, opposing Moore’s efforts to be reinstated. “Only then could the Police Department act as an efficient force in the pursuance of its mission to provide for the safety of all citizens in our community.”