N.O. East murder victim identified; VA employees plead guilty to bilking the agency; and other metro New Orleans crime news

Murder victim reported missing last week

A murder victim whose body was found Saturday night just off of Interstate 10 in New Orleans East has been identified as a man who was reported missing late last week.

Michael Randall, 58, of New Orleans was last seen about 11 p.m. Thursday sitting outside his home in the 4400 block of Dodt Avenue.

A motorist-assistance patrol found Randall’s body on Michoud Boulevard, just off Interstate 10 about 7 p.m. Saturday.

An autopsy found that Randall had been beaten to death, prompting the coroner’s office to classify the death a homicide.

He appeared to have been dead for about two days when his body was found, said John Gagliano, the Orleans Parish coroner’s chief investigator.

Police have not released any information on the case.

Former VA employees plead guilty to fraud

Three former VA employees were sentenced Wednesday in federal court for their roles in a scheme that bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agency.

Ronald Bell, 41, of Gretna; Regina David, 63, of New Orleans; and Yodonnalisa Evans, 45, of New Orleans were employed by the Veterans Health Administration at the New Orleans VA Medical Center when they created false companies and billed patient files for fraudulent services.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between January 2001 and December 2008, the three created the false companies, obtained identities of veterans registered with the VA and submitted fraudulent bills for services that were never performed.

In total, the three stole $563,985 from the VA, Boente’s office said.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman sentenced Bell to 24 months and ordered him to pay $563,986 in restitution. Davis was sentenced to 151/2 months in prison and ordered to pay $203,007 in restitution.

Evans was sentenced to 17 months in prison and ordered to pay $360,978 in restitution.

Slidell man convicted of sexual battery

A St. Tammany Parish jury convicted a Slidell man of sexual battery after he supplied a minor with alcohol and then assaulted him, a spokesman for District Attorney Walter Reed said Wednesday.

Matthew C. Schmalz, 21, was convicted in Judge August Hand’s court on Aug. 14, Rick Wood said.

Schmalz was arrested in August of last year after a male minor told a friend that Schmalz had given him alcohol then waited until he fell asleep. When he awoke, Schmalz was committing a sex crime, Wood said.

A friend called the victim’s family, Wood said.

Schmalz will be sentenced Sept. 12.

Sexual battery is punishable by up to 10 years in prison without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

Botched robbery costs alleged thief $1

St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man who, while attempting to rob a Slidell-area discount store, left a dollar bill on the counter and fled.

The would-be robber entered the Dollar General Store at 123 S. Military Road three separate times on the morning of Aug. 6, sheriff’s office spokesman George Bonnett said.

When a cashier asked the man if he needed help, he asked for change for a $1 bill.

When the cashier opened the register, the man, who had a knife in his other hand, reached for the money in the drawer.

Though cut on the hand by the robber’s knife, the cashier slammed the drawer shut, apparently startling the thief. He fled the store, leaving his dollar on the counter.

Witnesses reported that the robber — a white male approximately 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds — got into a blue pickup truck in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store.

A blonde was also in the truck, Bonnett said.

Anyone with any information on the crime is asked to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

Man pleads guilty to copyright infringement

A Terrytown man on Wednesday pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval to unauthorized recording of a motion picture and criminal infringement of a copyright.

Warren Stewart, 37, admitted to bringing a camcorder into a Harvey movie theater on Jan. 27 to record “Broken City,” which he later uploaded to the Internet, according to U.S. Attorney Dana Boente’s office.

An investigation found Stewart also recorded eight other movies at the theater between November and Jan. 29 without authorization. He later made copies of the recordings and sold them.

After surveillance on Stewart’s home, authorities on March 6 served a warrant and found 9,063 pirated DVDs with copyrighted movies on them, as well as 3,241 pirated CDs that contained copyrighted music.

Stewart intended to sell the discs, Boente’s office said.

Stewart faces a maximum prison sentence of eight years and a $250,000 fine.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

Compiled by

the New Orleans bureau