SORRENTO — The Police Department is under investigation for possible criminal activities by one or more of its officers, law enforcement officials confirmed.
Ricky Babin, district attorney of the 23rd Judicial District, which covers Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes, said his office received a complaint from a potentially credible source about possible malfeasance at the Police Department.
The allegations include misuse of public vehicles and equipment, and using public gasoline for private vehicles, among other things, Babin said.
“I don’t know how valid the allegations are at this point,” the district attorney said.
Babin said he turned the investigation over to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office late last week.
Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his office is pushing forward with the case, having interviewed a source “at length and on the record” on Friday and Monday.
The next step, Wiley said, is to take that information and start gathering documents.
Storm preparations, however, have put the investigation on the back burner .
“It’ll happen down the line,” Wiley said.
The sheriff said he also has invited the Office of the State Inspector General to conduct a concurrent investigation along with the Sheriff’s Office.
Wiley said he’d spoken personally with Sorrento Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. and Police Chief Earl Theriot about the investigation.
“Both of them are in support of, and relieved that an objective third party is investigating this,” Wiley said.
Theriot did not return a message left at the police department Monday.
The Town Council on Aug. 9 dismissed Officer Cory R. Prine after he admitted to violating the department’s policy by using a Taser stun gun on a Louisiana Technical College student in 2009 after the student asked to feel the stun gun’s effects.
Less than two weeks later, Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard was fired for an undisclosed alleged violation of police policy.
Another officer, Ricky Smith, was cited by the council but not fired.
Babin, who said he didn’t have a timetable for possibly bringing any charges before a grand jury, said most of the allegations centered around Ballard but the complaints “may be more systemic than that.”
Babin said he won’t know for sure until after the Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation.
“I just want to make sure (the allegations) get looked into,” Babin said.