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Former St. Tammany Deputy Pleads Guilty to Distributing Marijuana and Malfeasance

August 15, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Szalajeski, 36, of Folsom, pleaded guilty Wednesday (August 15) to two counts of distribution of marijuana and two counts of malfeasance in office.

District Judge Raymond S. Childress sentenced Szalajeski to 10 years in prison with nine of them suspended on each of the distribution charges and five years with four of them suspended on each of the malfeasance charges. The sentences are to be served at the same time.

“As a law enforcement officer, this defendant was arresting citizens for the same conduct that he was personally engaged in,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “This erodes the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system far beyond this one case. This will not be tolerated.”

While employed with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Szalajeski seized marijuana, alcohol, and other contraband while conducting traffic stops on October 25, 2016, and May 26, 2018. But instead of handling the evidence properly, he distributed it to his girlfriend for personal consumption.

When the crime was discovered, Szalajeski was fired from the Sheriff’s Office, and he was later charged.

In addition to the prison sentence, Szalajeski was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and to serve three years of probation when he is released from prison. Childress ordered Szalajeski to turn himself in on Friday (Aug. 17) to begin serving his sentence, and Childress warned the defendant that he would be arrested if he does not show up.

Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims and Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters prosecuted to the case.

Jury Finds Lacombe Man Guilty of Raping a Juvenile

August 13, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish jury found James Matthew Cole, 64, of Lacombe, guilty Friday of second degree rape, molestation of a juvenile, and sexual battery of a victim under 13.  He faces 25 to 99 years in prison when he is sentenced by District Judge Scott Gardner.

The charges involve a single victim, who was 9 or 10 years old when Cole first fondled her.  The abuse continued for two years, despite the victim’s pleas for him not to touch her any more.  The victim told authorities that Cole agreed to stop if she would do something sexual for him once a month.  In September 2015, Cole went to the victim, told her it was his one time a month, and raped her.

The crimes came to light a few months later when the victim told her mother, who contacted police. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, investigated the case.  The Dallas Area Children’s Advocacy Center also assisted.

In 1992, Cole pleaded guilty to indecent behavior with a juvenile in a separate case.  Three prior victims also testified during the trial last week that he had abused them 30 years ago.

The jury deliberated about three hours before returning the guilty verdict. Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and Holly McGinness prosecuted the case.

Jury Finds Lacombe Man Guilty of Raping Mandeville Woman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 10, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Ronald D. Moore, Jr., 26, of Lacombe, guilty Thursday evening of first degree rape and aggravated burglary for breaking into a Mandeville woman’s home and raping her last year. Moore faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he appears before District Judge Peter Garcia for sentencing on Sept. 17.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Alford and William Macke argued during the trial, which began Monday with jury selection, that Moore was a stranger to the then 53-year-old victim and that this was a crime of opportunity. The victim, who lived alone in Old Mandeville, testified that she had fallen asleep on the sofa and was awakened about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2017, by Moore, who was standing over her and fondling her.

She initially fought him, but he put her in a chokehold, strangling her so intensely that blood pooled in the back of her neck, and blood vessels ruptured in her face.  During an ordeal that lasted about two hours, Moore raped her, threatened to kill her, taunted her, and stole her prescription medication, driver’s license and mobile phone.

When Moore eventually fled, the victim left her home and picked up a friend, who accompanied her to the hospital, where the Mandeville Police Department was contacted.  The victim was able to give a detailed description of Moore. During their investigation, police officers used video surveillance from surrounding establishments to identify Moore, who matched the victim’s description. When an image from the video was publicized, a caller identified Moore.

Officers identified two people, seen on video holding a conversation with Moore, who was wearing a ripped shirt. They testified that Moore had told them a girl had left him stranded at a bar and that he offered them $5 to give him a ride to an address in Lacombe.  Moore ultimately was arrested at that address.  DNA evidence, matched to Moore, also was found on the victim.

In statements to police, Moore remembered being at the bar, which is located near the victim’s home.  He also said he recalled getting a ride home, but he claimed he could not remember what happened during the hours between those times.

The jury deliberated about two hours before finding Moore guilty as charged.

St. Tammany Man Indicted for First Degree Rape of Victim under 13.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2018

 

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Gregory Horton Luker, II, 32, of Madisonville of first degree rape of a victim under 13.

Luker is accused of raping a girl in Madisonville when she was about 9 years old.

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland, Chief of the Screening and Juvenile Divisions, presented the case to the grand jury.

Grand Jury Indicts Mandeville Man on Charges of Raping 9-Year-Old

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2018

 

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Michael Anthony Scott, 49, of Mandeville, Wednesday (July 25) of first degree rape of a victim under 13 and sexual battery of a victim under 13.

Scott is accused of raping a girl, who was 9 years old when the abuse began, over a period of about a year in Mandeville.  Both charges involve the same victim.

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland, Chief of the Screening and Juvenile Divisions, presented the case to the grand jury.

 

Mandeville Assisted Living Facility Pleads Guilty To Failing To Report Rape

PHOTO CAPTION:  District Attorney Warren Montgomery and Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland present a $25,000 check to SALT (Seniors And Law Enforcement Together) Council Chairman Ralph Oneal.  The donation was part of a plea agreement in which Mandeville Shelter Care, the parent company of Beau Provence Memory Care Living in Mandeville, pleaded guilty to a violation of state law requiring health care facilities and workers to report any abuse of a patient within 24 hours of learning about it.  Pictured are (l to r):  District Attorney Warren Montgomery, Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland, SALT Chairman Ralph Oneal, Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew, and Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 25, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced Wednesday that Beau Provence Memory Care Assisted Living in Mandeville has pleaded guilty to a one-count violation of state law that requires health care facilities and workers to report any abuse of a patient within 24 hours of learning about it.

In addition to the guilty plea, the agreement requires the facility’s parent company, Mandeville Shelter Care, to pay a $500 fine and make a $25,000 donation to the SALT (Seniors And Law Enforcement Together) Council, an advocacy organization that provides education and training about the safety of senior adults in St. Tammany Parish.

The guilty plea stems from the rape of a 78-year-old dementia patient who was living at the facility in August 2016, when she was raped by Jerry Kan, who was working there as a cook. A St. Tammany Parish jury rejected Kan’s claim that the sexual contact was consensual, and he was convicted last year of third-degree rape. Kan is serving a 12-year prison sentence.

“Our seniors are a very valuable and sometimes vulnerable part of our community,” Montgomery said. “Whether individual or corporate, those who exploit senior citizens will be dealt with severely.”

Ralph Oneal, Chairman of the St. Tammany SALT Council said he checked with some national leaders of fellow organizations fighting elder abuse and none had heard of this type of plea agreement, which required the institution to take responsibility and contribute financially to elder abuse prevention training.

“This is a great precedent to demonstrate the responsibility, as well as the liability, of those institutions that care for our elderly,” Oneal said.

The plea agreement also calls for Julie Henry, who worked as the program services director at Beau Provence, to assist and participate in educational programs or seminars related to eldercare issues for the next two years, as requested by the District Attorney’s Office. Henry had been charged with obstruction of justice and failure to report the incident, but those charges have been suspended, pending the completion of the conditions of the agreement.

The donation will enable SALT to expand its training opportunities, Oneal said. For example, the group will consider adding a third day to its annual Elder Abuse Conference, which this year attracted participants from 24 states for two days in June. The funds also will make it possible for representatives of the organization to attend the Emergency Nurses Association conference in Pittsburgh in September, which the group previously could not afford.

“We’re going to be able to reach 3,500 nurses who work in emergency rooms across the country,” Oneal said. “That’s a big deal.”

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland and Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims handled the case. They were assisted by Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery Names Civil Division Chief

July 11, 2018

District Attorney Warren Montgomery Names Civil Division Chief

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced Wednesday that he has named Assistant District Attorney Cary Menard as Chief of the Civil Division, responsible for leading the department whose newly enhanced duties include representing St. Tammany Parish Government.

The Louisiana Supreme Court resolved two years of litigation on June 27, when it confirmed that the Parish’s Home Rule Charter requires the District Attorney to serve as legal advisor to Parish Government. Montgomery had filed suit against the Parish in 2016, when officials rejected his efforts to fulfill his responsibility.

“Now that the issue has been settled, it is time to move forward,” Montgomery said.  “I have complete confidence in Cary’s abilities, based upon his background, vast experience, and his time here in this office. The Parish Government will be well advised and well represented.”

Menard joined the Montgomery Administration in May 2016 as an Assistant District Attorney in the Civil Division, where he advised boards and commissions in St. Tammany and Washington parishes and handled the office’s civil litigation. Before that, he worked for the State Attorney General’s Office as Director of the Complex Litigation Unit.

Menard received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana Lafayette, where he was named “Outstanding Male Graduate,” and he graduated from LSU Law School in 1979.  He worked as a private attorney until 1991, when he accepted a dream job that enabled him to merge his legal career and his love of drag racing.  That job required him to relocate to California to help build the new legal department for the National Hot Rod Association.  Menard was named Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs and spent 14 years in an ever-expanding job.  Menard not only directed the daily activities of general counsel and supervised contract counsel retained for litigation, but he also exercised management oversight of seven company-owned racetrack facilities in five states. He had direct operational and budgetary responsibility of $15 million with 22 direct reports and 119 indirect reports.

In 2003, Menard, a former NHRA race team owner and licensed dragster driver, was inducted into the NHRA Drag Racing Hall of Fame-South Central Region.

After his retirement from the National Hot Rod Association, Menard opened a mortgage company in Los Angeles and later founded a moving company in Maui, Hawaii, where he lived for four years before returning to the mainland.

In January 2018, Menard was promoted to Director of the District Attorney’s Pre-Trial Intervention Program (also known as Diversion). He lives in Mandeville with his wife, Melody, and he is the father of two adult children. Menard joins two other Chiefs on Montgomery’s Executive Team—Chief of Administration Tony Sanders and Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims.