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Bogalusa Man Gets 50 Years for Manslaughter in Woman’s 2016 Death

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May 22, 2018

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Charles Joseph Mixon, 43, of Bogalusa, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the 2016 shooting death of a woman whose body was burned beyond recognition. Keri G. Stewart, 43, of Bogalusa, Mixon’s girlfriend at the time, also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the killing.

District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher sentenced Mixon to 40 years in prison on the manslaughter charge and 10 years on the obstruction charge, which will be served consecutive to the manslaughter sentence. Stewart was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the obstruction charge.

Mixon shot Cristin James to death during a confrontation between Aug. 2 and Aug. 3 in 2016 at a house on Shorty Bush Road, just outside Bogalusa, and then attempted to dispose of James’s body. Stewart claimed she was at the house but was not in the room when James was shot. Stewart tried to assist in the cover-up, driving James’ car away from the scene on Aug. 2, but Stewart wrecked the car and was severely injured.

Assistant District Attorney David Weilbaecher, Jr. prosecuted the case.

Bogalusa Man, 64, Pleads Guilty To Raping 5-Year-Old Girl

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May 23, 2018

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Donald R. Stone, 64, of Bogalusa pleaded guilty Monday (May 21) to the second degree rape of a victim under 13. District Judge William Knight sentenced Stone to 30 years in prison.

Between Jan. 1 and April 26 in 2016, Stone raped a 5-year-old girl. The child ultimately disclosed the crime to her mother, who contacted law enforcement authorities. The case was investigated by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The victim and her family supported the terms of the plea. Assistant District Attorney Jason Cuccia prosecuted the case.

Grand Jury Indicts Two Men in Woman’s Heroin Death

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May 18, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted two men—Oren Bowens, 39, of Slidell, and Warren Brown, 26, of Pearl River—with second degree murder Thursday (May 17) in the case of a 23-year-old woman who died after ingesting heroin.

Bowens is also charged with possession of Suboxone and possession with the intent to distribute heroin.

The men are accused of supplying and/or providing the heroin that caused the victim’s death on Oct. 16, 2017. Her cause of death was determined to be heroin toxicity.

Grand Jury Indicts Texas Man In Rape, Molestation Of Two Girls

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May 18, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Harold A. Butler, Jr., 45, of Jefferson Parish, with aggravated rape of a victim under 13 and the molestation of a juvenile under his care or custody in incidents involving two victims.

Butler is accused of raping a girl for many years, beginning when she was 12 years old and living in Mandeville. He also is accused of molesting another girl for a number of years, including a period when she was 16 years old and lived in Mandeville.

District Attorney Adds Charges to 3 Men in Mount Hermon Shooting Spree

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  May 18, 2018

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced Friday (May 18) that he has added seven more counts to the charges against three young men accused of shooting homes and businesses in the Mount Hermon area before dawn in April last year.

The men—Bailey Koon, 18, of Franklinton; Dakota Tetreau, 20, of Franklinton; and Desmond Warren, 19, of Mount Hermon—are now charged with a total of 9 counts of illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities, 19 counts of simple criminal damage to property, and nine counts of aggravated criminal damage to property. That includes seven new charges–three counts of illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities, three counts of aggravated criminal damage and one count of simple criminal damage.

Koon, Tetreau, and Warren are accused in a shooting spree that erupted on April 11, 2017, between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., when residents in a rural Mount Hermon community were awakened by gunfire. At least 13 homes and outbuildings were damaged, as well as 9 vehicles and mailboxes. In some instances, the bullets struck inches of where someone was sleeping. After a five-month investigation by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, the men were arrested in September 2017. The District Attorney’s Office charged them two months later with the first 30 counts. After further review and investigation, the seven additional charges were added to the amended charging document signed Tuesday by Montgomery.

Montgomery asks that any known victims who have not been in touch with the District Attorney’s Office about restitution to call (985) 335-1066 no later than June 30, 2018.

Ex-Con Gets 20 Years for Possessing Gun and Drugs and Fleeing Police  

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May 15, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Michael Richardson, 34, of Covington, pleaded guilty Monday (May 14) to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegal possession of a stolen firearm, possession of marijuana (third offense), and resisting an officer during an incident last year. District Judge Martin Coady sentenced Richardson to 20 years in prison without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

The charges stem from an incident on Dec. 11, 2017, when St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies stopped Richardson for a license plate violation, noticed smoke, and smelled marijuana coming from the car. The officer asked if there was anything illegal inside the vehicle, and Richardson handed the officers a blunt.

Richardson then fled on foot, hopped a 6-foot fence, and hid in a neighboring house that did not belong to him. The deputies eventually found Richardson inside the home, where he was hiding in the closet of a child’s bedroom.  The deputies also recovered a handgun that Richardson had hidden in a clothes hamper in the room. The handgun was later determined to have been stolen about a month and a half earlier in an automobile burglary.

Assistant District Attorney Holly McGinness prosecuted the case.

Ex-Boyfriend Found Guilty of Murder and Kidnapping in Pearl River Woman’s Death

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May 11, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Jonathan D. Talley, 37, of Bogalusa, guilty as charged Friday (May 11) of second degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend, the mother of his child, in Pearl River nearly two years ago. Talley also was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and second degree kidnapping for fleeing the murder scene with his 3-year-old son in violation of a protective order that required him to stay away from the boy and his mother.

Talley faces a mandatory life sentence for the murder conviction when he goes before District Judge Scott Gardner, who set the sentencing for May 29.

Montgomery said, “I extend my sympathies to the family, my appreciation to the jury for their thoughtful deliberation, and my thanks to the law enforcement and prosecution team that brought this to a successful conclusion.”  The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

The jury deliberated just over three hours, concluding a weeklong trial that examined the murder of Aimee Kirst, 33, on June 30, 2016. Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and Jay Adair argued that an enraged Talley went to Kirst’s Pearl River home with the intention to kill her and then shot her in the back of the head as she tried to hide in their son’s bedroom.

“Nothing binds two people like sharing a child, and the tighter the bond, the greater the capacity to love, but also the greater the capacity to destroy,” Adair told the jury in his closing argument. “The defendant held two precious lives in his hand…He chose to destroy them, plain and simple.”

Adair described a videotaped interview of the couple’s 3-year-old son, who witnessed the shooting, as “one of the single most powerful pieces of evidence I’ve seen in almost 17 years of prosecuting.” The child described hearing his father threaten to shoot Kirst in the head, hearing the loud gunshot, watching his mother bleed to death, and wishing he could put on his Spiderman costume and punch his dad. The boy said his dad shot his mom because she had been “aggravating him all day.”

After the murder, Talley fled the scene in Kirst’s car and drove with his son to Lucedale, Mississippi, where Talley’s mother lived. Talley admitted to his mother and stepfather that he had shot Kirst, and they called authorities.

Dieck and Adair refuted Talley’s claim that he never intended to kill Kirst and that he went to her home that day only to shoot himself in front of her. Talley claimed the gun went off accidentally as he tried to snatch open the door to the child’s bedroom to follow Kirst.

Dieck said that scenario was “not only unrealistic, it was scientifically impossible.”

After the verdict was announced, members of Kirst’s family embraced Talley’s family members, and they wept and comforted each other.

 

Covington Man Found Guilty of Robbing Mandeville Discount Store

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May 14, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Michael E. Mitchell, 36, of Covington, was sentenced Thursday (May 10) to three years in prison for robbing a discount store in Mandeville last year. Mitchell, who was convicted of first degree robbery on April 23, was sentenced by District Judge Reginald T. Badeaux.

The crime occurred Feb. 24, 2017, when Mitchell entered the Dollar General store in Mandeville and demanded cash from the register. While robbing the clerk, Mitchell exposed what appeared to be the handle of a weapon. The police later recovered a B.B. gun from the defendant’s vehicle, but the clerk was unable to confirm it was the object the defendant had in his pocket.

Mitchell was identified five days later, as he sat in the parking lot of another discount store in a car matching the one that had been seen leaving the Dollar General robbery. Law enforcement officers also found dark clothing that matched the suspect’s clothing in surveillance footage of the Dollar General crime.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

During the trial, Mitchell admitted that he had robbed the store, but his attorney argued the crime was a simple robbery. Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Authement and Luke Lancaster contended the crime was an armed robbery, as Mitchell had been charged.

The prosecutors said they accept the jury’s verdict and found it reasonable.

Sixteen People Charged With Racketeering In Counterfeit Check Scheme

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April 27, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery hosted a press conference Friday (April 27) at 10:30 a.m. to announce the indictment of 16 suspects, charged with racketeering and 89 counts of bank fraud for an alleged check counterfeiting operation. The indictments, returned April 19, were the result of a yearlong investigation by Det. Nick Burtanog of the Slidell Police Department.

Between January and August 2017, the suspects operated as the “BME Mafia” and sought to defraud several banks, individuals, and government agencies, including the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. During a three-month scope of the operation, 89 checks, totaling more than $140,000, were discovered to have been presented to various financial institutions. The suspects called their scheme the “Nike game,” referring the sports company’s check logo.

“The criminal acts of financial fraudsters cause enormous damage to unsuspecting individuals and banks,” Montgomery said. “Check counterfeiting has reached epidemic levels as thieves become more sophisticated. We hope that this indictment shows the depth of our commitment to use all the tools in our arsenal, including racketeering laws, to fully prosecute these unlawful operations.”

The racketeering charge was a collaborative effort, resulting from Assistant District Attorneys working with the Slidell police department. Assistant District Attorney Butch Wilson is the lead attorney on the case.

Montgomery applauded the outstanding work of Detective Burtanog, who led the investigation at the Slidell Police Department, and thanked the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police and the United States Secret Service for their assistance.

“White-collar crime is a costly crime that costs Americans over $300 billion a year,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said. “Cooperative endeavors from multiple different law enforcement agencies brought down this criminal enterprise.”

The accused ringleader, Willie Mack Cauley, 40, of Slidell, has been arrested, and his bond was set at $1 million. Cauley, a rapper who runs an enterprise known as BlakMaze Entertainment, moved to St. Tammany in August 2016 after the Baton Rouge floods. He is accused of creating and/or providing counterfeit checks and identification to the other members of the enterprise, directing the operation, and receiving the majority of the profits.

Cauley allegedly enlisted the help of his associates in Baton Rouge to recruit co-conspirators, distribute, and present counterfeit checks out of the bank accounts of St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Diamond Sharp Contracting Group, Blue Ridge of Sumpter, Ross Dress for Less, Rack Room Shoes, and other individuals. Cauley is charged with racketeering and 89 counts of bank fraud.

At least 16 counterfeit checks were presented against the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office account for more than $30,000. Another 15 counterfeit checks were presented against other victims in Saint Tammany and Washington Parishes for more than $15,000. All losses were reimbursed by each bank.

“Although, the Sheriff’s Office did not suffer any financial loss on behalf of the taxpayers, my staff has put additional controls in place to prevent future fraud attempts,” St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said. “We would encourage all residents to keep a close watch on their personal and business accounts. My office, along with our local and federal partners, will aggressively pursue anyone or any group looking to take advantage of our citizens.”

Bond was set at $200,000 for the remaining defendants, many of whom also have been arrested. The suspects, accusations against them, and charges as follows:

  • Teineka White, 43, of Sumter, South Carolina, accused of accessing account information as a retail vendor for Bank of America and sending it to Cauley via text; racketeering and 24 counts of bank fraud.
  • Kierra Dunbar, 20, of Slidell, accused of taking photos of legitimate customer checks at Ross Dress for Less and Rack Room Shoes, where she worked at the time, and providing them to Cauley for counterfeiting purposes; racketeering and 21 counts of bank fraud.
  • Victor Harris, 34, of Jacksonville, Florida, accused of giving a legitimate check, drawn on the account of Diamond Sharp Contracting Group, to Cauley, who then made counterfeit copies; racketeering and 11 counts of bank fraud.
  • Frederick Selders, 36, of Baton Rouge, accused of serving as a recruiter who enlisted individuals, known as “mules,” to cash the counterfeit checks and share in the profits; racketeering and seven counts of bank fraud.
  • Kelvin Carter, 25, of Gonzales, accused recruiter; racketeering and nine counts of bank fraud.
  • Marcus Nalls, 27, of Baton Rouge, accused recruiter; racketeering and five counts of bank fraud.
  • Tasha Variste, 31, of Baton Rouge, accused recruiter; racketeering and four counts of bank fraud.
  • Jonquayle McCoy, 24, of Baton Rouge, accused recruiter; racketeering and three counts of bank fraud.
  • Larry Womack, 23, of Slidell, accused recruiter, racketeering and nine counts of bank fraud.
  • Jonathan White, 40, of Biloxi, accused recruiter; racketeering and eight counts of bank fraud.
  • Robert Hatch, 26, of Baton Rouge, accused recruiter; racketeering and one count of bank fraud.
  • Steven Stanley, 27, of Baton Rouge, accused recruiter; racketeering and five counts of bank fraud.
  • Loreal Dunbar, 33, of Baker, recruiter; racketeering and six counts of bank fraud.
  • Derrick Variste, 33, of Baton Rouge, recruiter; racketeering and 17 counts of bank fraud.
  • Dareyan Byrd, 39, of Dothan, Alabama, recruiter; racketeering and two counts of bank fraud.