A former St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of malfeasance and was sentenced to five years in prison — with four years suspended — for writing 21 bogus seat-belt tickets to unsuspecting drivers who were never stopped for the violations, all while falsifying overtime claims.
William Marciante Jr. was fired from the Sheriff’s Office following his November 2011 arrest. As part of a plea deal, Marciante pleaded guilty Tuesday in state District Court in Hahnville to six counts of payroll fraud and five counts apiece of forgery, malfeasance in office and injuring public records.
Marciante drew a much harsher punishment than a veteran New Orleans police officer who admitted similar abuses.
In November 2011, Glenn Gross, a 22-year veteran of the NOPD, pleaded guilty to four counts of malfeasance and received a five-year suspended sentence, The Times-Picayune reported at the time.
Gross had been booked with writing 215 phony seat-belt tickets while collecting overtime pay through a grant.
He retired from the department before entering his plea.
Both Gross and Marciante were receiving overtime pay made available to local governments through a state highway grant aimed at enforcing seat-belt laws.
Marciante was initially charged with 27 counts of malfeasance, 21 counts of injuring public records, 21 counts of forgery and six counts of payroll fraud.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said in a prepared statement Wednesday he was “disgusted” by the incident, describing Marciante’s actions “a disgrace to his coworkers, the badge and the public he swore to protect.”
“My office initiated the investigation after complaints were filed by unsuspecting motorist surprised to learn of attachments in their name for failure to pay fines,” the sheriff said.
That investigation showed Marciante issued the phantom seat-belt violations during a four-month span beginning in February 2011.
Champagne said reviews of Marciante’s computer and his patrol car video confirmed the tickets were written for traffic stops that never occurred.
In a number of cases, Marciante was not even working when the citations were purportedly issued.
“It is mind-boggling to understand how someone would be so irresponsible and think it would not eventually be detected,” Champagne said.
“We have checks and balances in place. Once we discovered discrepancies, we immediately investigated and took swift actions.”