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Year: 2017

Former Teacher and Scout Leader Convicted of Child Pornography and Molestation

December 15, 2017

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Dennis C. Mischler, 65, of Covington, guilty of two counts of oral sexual battery, molestation of a juvenile, and 54 counts of pornography involving juveniles. The jury deliberated 58 minutes before returning the verdict to District Judge August. J. Hand.

“This case is tragic, not only because of what the victims suffered, but also because the system failed them for 40 years,” Montgomery said. “The guilty verdict reflects the hard work of the investigators, prosecutors, the jury, and judge.”

Over a span of 40 years, Mischler molested male students, scouts, and family members, who all were in their early teens and younger when the crimes occurred. Among them was a 25-year-old man who testified that he was 13 years old when Mischler performed oral sex on him on two occasions in St. Tammany Parish in 2005. The victim said he was spending the night at Mischler’s temporary home in a FEMA trailer in Slidell after Hurricane Katrina one night, when he was awakened by Mischler performing oral sex on him. The victim also testified that on another occasion Mischler took him to a hotel to go swimming and later coerced him into performing oral sex.

This case began in 2010 with a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation into a Canadian company that was producing and distributing child pornography. The company’s database listed Mischler, who by then had moved from New Orleans to Covington, as a client who had made at least four purchases over a six-month period. When investigators executed a warrant to search Mischler’s Covington home, some of the books and movies were found.

The molestation and oral sexual battery allegations were uncovered when investigators began interviewing those associated with Mischler. They also discovered that Mischler had been arrested for molesting children in three previous incidents, one dating back to 1980, when Mischler was a Boy Scout leader at Camp Salmen in Mississippi. The now-51-year-old victim testified that he was an eager 14-year-old Eagle Scout when he was assigned to share a bunk with Mischler. When the lights were turned off, Mischler took the boy’s hand and placed it on Mischler’s penis three times and then pretended to be sleeping when the boy pushed him away.

The boy told his parents, who went to law enforcement officials, but the District Attorney’s Office in Mississippi refused charges after a preliminary hearing. Charges also were refused in Arkansas, when a then-13-year-old victim claimed Mischler touched him inappropriately while Mischler and more than a dozen relatives were staying in the victim’s home after evacuating for Hurricane Katrina.

Those two victims were among the nine men, who were called by Assistant District Attorneys Collin Sims (Chief of the Criminal Division) and Bruce Dearing (Chief of Trials) to testify in court about being molested by Mischler.

Mischler testified in his own defense, disputing all of the claims. He said all of the victims were lying.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office also assisted.

“This office will be relentless in pursuing evil-doers,” Montgomery said.

Covington Man Convicted in Hotel Murder Last Fall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 12, 2017

Covington Man Convicted in Hotel Murder Last Fall

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Demetri Antonio James, 20, of Covington, guilty of second degree murder for shooting a man to death in a Covington motel last year. James faces a mandatory life sentence when he appears before District Judge Richard Swartz, Jr., for sentencing on Jan. 10, 2018.

The murder occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, 2016, when James and two other men showed up at the Green Springs Motel and decided to commit a robbery. They used a card to force their way into a room, where the victim, Brandon Washington, was sleeping. Two of the men, Terry Hookfin and Tyreek Sandifer, began searching Washington’s pockets. When Washington woke up, a brief struggle occurred, and James shot Washington in the head.

Hookfin, 28, of Covington, pleaded guilty Sept. 28 to manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm for his role in the crime, and he faces 20 to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. Sandifer, 19, of Covington, pleaded guilty Nov. 7 and was sentenced to the maximum of 40 years in prison for manslaughter and 50 years for armed robbery with a firearm. Both sentences are being served at the same time.

A fourth defendant, Devin Decoud, 38, of Covington, drove James away from the scene but did not go inside the hotel room. He also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery and received a sentence of 10 years in prison. Hoofkin and Decoud testified against James.

A surveillance camera captured the three men walking toward Washington’s hotel room and then running from it a few minutes later. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and arrested Hookfin and Sandifer the next day. James fled to Bogalusa, where he was arrested a week later by U.S. Marshals. With the conviction of James, the four-defendant case was resolved within a year of the indictments in January of this year.

Assistant District Attorney John Alford and Blake Peters prosecuted the case.

Mandeville Snowball Stand Owner Pleads Guilty to Paying Teen Girls for Sex Acts

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 4, 2017

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Anthony Barton Fortune, 57, owner of a Mandeville snowball stand, pleaded guilty as charged Monday (Dec. 4) to paying four teenage girls money and drugs for sexual favors. District Judge Peter Garcia sentenced him to a total of 15 years in prison.

Here are the charges to which Fortune pleaded guilty and received concurrent sentences:

  • Purchase of Commercial Sexual Activity of persons under 18, five counts, 15 years each
  • Production of Pornography, 10 years
  • Sexual Battery, 10 years
  • Indecent behavior with a juvenile, six counts, 7 years each
  • Distributing Xanax to persons under 18, two counts, 7.5 years each
  • Distributing marijuana to persons under 18, two counts, 7.5 years each

The crimes came to light when Mandeville police received a report that the snowball stand owner was paying teenage girls for sexual activities. Police later found about 40 photos of the girls posing nude and performing sex acts in the defendant’s apartment, which is connected to the back of the snowball stand. Two of the victims were 14 years old, one was 15, and another was 16 at the time of the crimes. The victims told police Fortune gave them marijuana and Xanax and that he paid them each a total of between $1,400 and $2,000. Police found marijuana and a grinder inside Fortune’s apartment.

The victims supported the resolution of the case.

 

 

 

D.A. Warren Montgomery Helps Nearly 100 People Get Fresh Start with Expungements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 1, 2017

D.A. Warren Montgomery Helps Nearly 100 People Get Fresh Start with Expungements

A new program implemented by District Attorney Warren Montgomery assisted nearly 100 men and women in getting a fresh start by clearing old arrests and convictions for relatively minor crimes from their criminal records.

The Fresh Start Program pre-screened participants to assure they met the criteria under state law for a legal process called expungement, and those who were eligible were invited to participate on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center. The program reduced the fees from the usual $550 per expungement to $100 and expedited the process by bringing all of the agencies needed to sign off on the paperwork together in one room.

“The program was a tremendous success,” Montgomery said. “There were lots of smiles and even some tears, as participants realized what this will mean to their lives, a better job or a chance to advance on the job. In turn, their stability and productivity help to create a safer community for us all.”

Montgomery said the program would not have been possible without the help of many people, including St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court Melissa Henry, Washington Parish Clerk of Court Johnny Crain, St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith and Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal, who all waived their agencies’ fees to make the expungement process more affordable. The fees alone usually cost $550.  Montgomery also waived his office’s fees and raised funds from community donors through the Northshore Community Foundation to help cover a portion of the remaining $250 Louisiana State Police fee , which is state mandated. The waived fees and community donations reduced each participant’s portion of the fee to $100.  Community donors included the Louisiana Bar Foundation, Northshore Business Council, Church of the King, Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Haynie Family Foundation, Buddy and Pat Hall and other individual donors.

The event began at 9 a.m. with volunteers from the participating agencies and three District Judges—William J. Burris, August J. Hand, and Reginald T. Badeaux, III—set up at various stations to receive the paperwork.  The pre-screened participants met with volunteer attorneys, who walked the paperwork through each of the stations to get the needed signatures. The District Attorney’s Office, the arresting agency in each case, and the clerks’ offices had been provided the names and records of participants in advance for review. The judges signed each order of expungement, and the clerks certified the records through closing time at 2 p.m.

A total of 93 men and women walked away with orders of expungement. Certain crimes are not eligible for expungement under state law, including violent crimes, crimes involving minors, crimes involving the distribution or manufacture of illegal drugs, possession of heroin and crimes that require sex offender registration.

Community partners included the Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Louisiana United International, NAACP of St. Tammany, and the New Orleans Paralegal Association, who all assisted in the intake and screening of more than 300 potential applicants. Informational exhibits were set up in the halls outside the event by Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, Celebrate Recovery of First Baptist Church of Covington and Louisiana United International.

Slidell Man Pleads Guilty To Sexual Battery Of 4-year-old and Producing Child Porn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 30, 2017

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that William Harvey Watson, 24, of Slidell, pleaded guilty as charged Monday (Nov. 27) to all charges, including sexual battery of a victim under 13, as well as 250 counts of possession of child pornography and 27 counts of production of child pornography of a victim under 13.

District Judge Reginald Badeaux sentenced Watson to 30 years in prison on the sexual battery charge and 25 years in prison on each of the other charges, with all of the sentences to be served at the same time.

In February of this year, when Watson was left briefly to babysit a 4-year-old girl, he touched her vagina in a sexual way, took off her clothes, and posed her for sexually explicit photos. He confessed to touching the girl and to having a sexually transmitted disease. The child’s mother became suspicious when she returned home after a short time away, found the door of her home unusually locked, and it took Watson several minutes to open the door. Once inside, the mother discovered her daughter’s clothing was disheveled and turned inside out. After questioning by the mother, the girl described what happened.

During its investigation, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office got a search warrant for Watson’s electronic devices, where they found 473 images and 10 videos of child pornography. A majority of the images and videos were identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as known child victims. All of the images and videos were of children under 13 and most were of children under age five.

Watson admitted to being sexually attracted to children and downloading the illegal material to attempt to satisfy those urges. While searching the computer, the Sheriff’s Office also found several pornographic images of an 8-month-old girl, whom Watson had posed for sexually explicit photos. During the investigation, Watson admitted to previously getting in trouble years earlier for sexually abusing an 18-month-old girl in Texas.

Assistant District Attorney Blair Alford, who prosecuted the case, and the victim’s family urged the court to give Watson the maximum possible sentences of 99 years in prison on the sexual battery and production of child pornography charges and 40 years on the possession of child pornography charges. After Badeaux sentenced Watson to a maximum of 30 years, Alford filed a motion, asking the judge to increase the sentence.

Bogalusa Man Indicted on Second Degree Murder, Armed Robbery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 29, 2017

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a Washington Parish grand jury indicted Dakeithan D. Matthews, 22, of Bogalusa, Tuesday (Nov. 28) on charges of second degree murder and armed robbery with a firearm.

Matthews is accused of shooting to death Jon Kelly Smith, of Lumberton, Mississippi, and using the handgun to rob another victim on July 1 of this year.

 

Pearl River Man Indicted on Rape and Hundreds of Child Porn Charges; His Wife Also Charged  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 20, 2017

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted David Allen Hammond, Jr., 39, of Pearl River, Thursday (Nov. 16) on first degree rape, sexual battery of a victim under 13, oral sexual battery, 500 counts of production of pornography involving juveniles, and 300 counts of pornography involving juveniles under 13. Hammond’s charges also include distribution/possession with the intent to distribute pornography involving juveniles.

Hammond’s wife, Melissa Mary Hammond, 33, of Slidell, also was indicted on indecent behavior with a juvenile victim under 13, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and seven counts of production of pornography involving juveniles.

Both were charged with obstruction of justice.

The rape occurred between Nov. 20, 2015, and Dec. 9, 2016, the same time frame as most of the charges. Most of the charges against the couple involve the same victim.

Franklinton Man Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping, Rape in Home Invasion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 17, 2017

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Deonta Miller, 18, of Franklinton, pleaded guilty Tuesday (Nov. 14) to second degree rape, second degree kidnapping, and aggravated burglary in a home invasion last year in Franklinton.

Miller, whose trial was set to begin Tuesday, was sentenced by District Judge William Knight to a maximum of 40 years on the rape charge, 20 years on the kidnapping charge, and 20 years on the burglary charge, with all of the sentences to be served at the same time.

In December last year, Miller posed as a delivery man and gained entry into the victim’s home, where he stole a large number of guns and other valuables. He also forced the female victim to drive her car, full of the stolen goods, onto a desolate road and raped her. He then got the vehicle stuck in a ditch, and the victim escaped when he fled into the woods.

The evidence showed that an accomplice helped plan and execute the crimes. The alleged accomplice, Robert Lester, died while awaiting trial on the matter in jail.

Assistant District Attorney Lewis Murray prosecuted this case.

Pearl River Man Convicted of Robbery for April Crime Spree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 10, 2017

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury convicted Elliott W. Galloway, 43, of Pearl River, of two counts of first degree robbery and one count of attempted simple robbery for a crime spree he committed in April. Galloway, a multiple offender, faces 40 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 14 by District Judge Peter Garcia.

The first crime occurred at the Purple Cow convenience store and gas station just after midnight on April 15 this year, when Galloway entered the store and demanded money from the cash register, while placing his hand in his sweatshirt. Fearing he had a gun, the clerk handed over the money and, after Galloway fled, called 9-1-1.

Later that morning, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office received a report that a suspect, later identified in a lineup as Galloway, had attempted to rob the RaceTrac convenience store and gas station between 4 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. Witnesses described the suspect and the car he was driving, and while searching for the vehicle, officers got a call about a third robbery at the Circle K in Slidell.

The Circle K robbery occurred about 4:19 a.m., when Galloway approached the counter, ordered the clerk to give him all the money in the register or he would start killing people. As the clerk put the money in a bag, Galloway ordered her not to call the police right away, put his hand in his pocket, and threatened her again. Deputies later arrested Galloway, slouched in the seat of a car matching the description provided by victims. His door was open, he was parked near another gas station, and he actively resisted as officers tried to arrest him. A pocket knife was recovered from the seat of the car.

The Pearl River Police Department, Slidell Police Department, and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office all participated in the investigation.

In unusual testimony during the trial, Galloway admitted to the robberies and to threatening to kill the clerk, but he claimed he never implied he had a gun. He also said he’d spent 17 years of his life in jail. Galloway’s prior convictions include first degree robbery in 1997, obscenity in 2003, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 2009, methamphetamine possession in 2009, heroin possession in 2010, aggravated assault in 2016, as well as a hit and run and two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated.  Galloway blamed his drug and alcohol use for his troubles and said he would live longer in prison.

The jury deliberated for an hour, including a lunch break, before returning the guilty verdict. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Authement prosecuted the case.