Former Livingston Parish councilman gets 5 years after no contest plea

A former Livingston Parish Council chairman was sentenced to five years in state custody after he pleaded no contest to prescription drug trafficking-related charges.

Chief Judge Bob Morrison, of the 21st Judicial District, ordered Robert Ringo, 52, to five years in the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program at the Bossier Parish Correctional Center Medium Security Facility.

Ringo also received credit for time served and will have his sentence shortened with good behavior, Morrison said.

Ringo was elected to the council’s District 2 in November 1999. He has worked as a building contractor.

Ringo served as the council’s chairman in 2003, the same year he ran for parish president.

He came in third place behind winner Mike Grimmer and incumbent Dewey Ratcliff.

Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Ringo in April 2012 after searching his home on Lisa Drive near the town of Livingston and finding hundreds of pills, most of which were Oxycodone, court records show.

Tina Robin Patterson, Ringo’s psychologist, said in court Thursday that Ringo is dealing with a pain medication addiction but has found a way to fight it.

Patterson also said Ringo’s drug screens in recent months show he has been clean.

“He’s become a different man,” Patterson said. “When I first met him, I did not like him at all and he did not like me.”

Patterson vouched for in-home incarceration for Ringo if he continues on the path he is on now.

“He worked so hard to get his family back together,” she said. “His family’s agreed to help him.”

Sherman Mack, Ringo’s attorney, said his client has been sober for nearly two years and began counseling after he bonded out of jail.

Morrison said it appears Ringo’s family is trying to help him. The judge, who said he has known Ringo for some time, said he would not consider in-home incarceration but chose to send him to a rehabilitation program so he can receive more treatment.

“I sincerely hope they will help you,” Morrison said.

Ringo was escorted from the courtroom into a nearby hallway after his sentencing.

His visibly upset wife hugged him before he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

“That’s the court’s discretion,” Mack said of the sentence. “Obviously, we have to respect it and abide by it.”

Four others were arrested in the search of Ringo’s home, according to a Sheriff’s Office report of the investigation.

The report says narcotics detectives had been investigating Ringo for trafficking prescription medication.

A confidential source told detectives that Ringo orchestrated trips to Texas so associates could fill out prescriptions for the drugs and return them to Livingston Parish for sale.

The investigation had been going on for about 90 days, the Sheriff’s Office has said.

Ringo told detectives he had been selling the medication for a profit, the report says. He admitted to selling 100 Oxycodone pills to another man for $2,000.

Detectives found more than 1,400 Oxycodone pills on Ringo’s person, along with nearly $6,000 in cash, the report says. Detectives also found 51 Oxycodone pills in his bedroom and 244 Oxycodone pills in his vehicle.

Detectives later found 66 pills of Carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant, and eight pills of Suboxone, which treats opiate addictions.

Ringo bonded out after his arrest, but detectives asked him to return to the courthouse for more charges.

When he returned, Ringo surrendered another $1,200 in his pockets and a red straw with Oxycodone residue on it, the report says.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Ringo in June 2012 with one count of possession with intent to distribute Schedule IV drugs and three counts of possession of Schedule II drugs. He pleaded no contest to those counts Aug. 12 and had his sentencing deferred until Thursday.

The prescription drug case wasn’t Ringo’s first run-in with the law.

Ringo pleaded guilty in 2005 to federal tax fraud, admitting that he sold his vote on a Walker landfill permit for $17,000. Ringo was sentenced to six months of home detention in that case.