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Month: July 2016

Slidell Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Raping Boy and Molesting Another

July 29, 2016

COVINGTON—John P. Montelepre, 25, of Slidell, was sentenced Thursday (July 28) to 20 years in prison and required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life for raping a then 13-year-old boy about seven years ago and also sexually molesting another boy. District Judge William J. Burris issued the sentence after Montelepre pleaded guilty to one count of forcible rape, two counts of aggravated incest, and one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Montelepre knew the first victim and began touching him inappropriately when they spent time together. When the boy was 13, Montelepre raped him in the shower and on another occasion brought sex toys into the boy’s bed. The victim told his sister, whose family contacted the Slidell Police Department. The case was investigated by then-Detective Brian D. Brown, now Supervisory Special Agent of the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation’s Investigation Division.

Montelepre eventually admitted to the crimes in a recorded interview and when asked if he had molested any other children, he described inappropriate behavior with another boy who had looked up to him. Law enforcement arranged a forensic interview of the second boy, who confirmed the sexual abuse had occurred.
Montelepre John
Assistant District Attorney William Macke handled the case.

Mandeville Man, 23, Found Guilty of Raping Intoxicated Woman


July 20, 2016

COVINGTON—A 23-year-old Mandeville man is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 1 for raping a then 18-year-old woman last year after she became intoxicated in his home. A St. Tammany Parish jury found Terry J. Ducote guilty Thursday (July 14) of simple rape by intoxicating agent.

Ducote faces up to 25 years when District Judge Allison Penzato sentences him.

Ducote knew the victim, who was feeling down about personal issues, when the two smoked marijuana together on June 28, 2015. Ducote also gave a bottle of Vodka to the victim, who rarely drank. When she became so intoxicated that she could not move, Ducote raped her, despite her pleas for him to stop.

The next morning, the victim confided via a text message to her sister that she had been raped. The sister notified their father, who took the victim to the hospital and contacted the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Ducote Terry
The jury rejected Ducote’s claims that the victim initiated the act. Among the evidence presented by Assistant District Attorneys Jay Adair and Casey Dieck were text messages to the victim from Ducote, who apologized profusely, stating the incident “never should have happened,” and blamed it on his own intoxication.

Slidell Man Gets 60 Years in Prison for Manslaughter


July 20, 2016
Smith Michael G. Jr.
COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish judge sentenced Michael G. Smith, Jr., 24, of Slidell, to 60 years in prison Tuesday (July 19) for shooting to death the son of his father’s girlfriend. District Judge Reginald T. Badeaux issued the sentence after Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm.
Smith is accused of killing Warren Pryor, 21, who lived in Slidell with his mother and her boyfriend, Michael G. Smith, Sr. Pryor’s body was found on Jan. 7, 2013, at 11 p.m. with gunshot wounds to the head and one to the right hand in the parking lot of Chase Bank on Gause Boulevard. Pryor’s burned car was found in New Orleans, but shell casings located in the house where Pryor lived matched those found in his car. Dried blood found on Smith Jr.’s pants also matched Pryor’s. Smith Jr. initially claimed that he shot Pryor in self-defense, but ballistics tests proved that theory to be implausible.
The day before the Slidell shooting, Smith Jr. had shot a man to death in New Orleans and also claimed self-defense. But the ballistics tests showed the bullets in both cases came from the same gun. Smith Jr. also pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the New Orleans killing and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. His sentence in the St. Tammany case is to run concurrently.
Smith Jr. was set for trial next week. Assistant District Attorney John Alford handled the plea agreement.

Man Who Killed Girlfriend’s Husband in Covington Gets Life Sentence

July 7, 2016

COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish judge sentenced Carlos Rodriguez, 45, formerly of Kenner, to a mandatory life sentence Thursday (July 7) for carrying out a plot with his girlfriend to kill her husband in 2009. Rodriguez had been found guilty of first degree murder in May, after a weeklong trial and jury deliberations that lasted just 23 minutes.

District Judge August J. Hand issued the sentence after a statement by Valerie Scramuzza Dirks, the sister of Mario Scramuzza, the Lacombe Fire District paramedic who was strangled to death in the laundry room of his Covington Home.

“I spent years watching my mom grieve the loss of her son,” Dirks said. “I watched my dad die of a broken heart.” Dirks also talked of raising her nephew, who was 13 when his father was murdered and his mother, Gina Scramuzza, was arrested and charged in the murder-for-hire scheme to kill her husband. Gina Scramuzza pleaded guilty to first degree murder in 2013 and is also serving a life sentence. Dirks said she “taught a young man to drive,” pinned on his boutonniere for prom, and took him to college orientation. Yet, it hurt to look in his eyes and see the pain of his knowing that she was not his mother or father, she said.

“As a man today, that boy terribly misses his dad,” Dirks said. Dirks also expressed sorrow for Rodriguez’s children and said she prays she can forgive him someday. “It’s what God would want us to do,” she said. “It’s what I will work hard to do.”

The Rodriguez sentencing was the final chapter in a chilling saga that began when Gina Scramuzza met Rodriguez at East Jefferson General Hospital, where she worked as a C.A.T. scan technician. The two quickly began a relationship, and she spent lavishly on him, buying him a cell phone so that they could talk secretly and a red Hummer. She complained that her husband was abusive, and when Rodriguez offered to help her “get rid of him,” she gave him $3,400 in cash—$1,700 on two different occasions—to carry out the plan.
Rodriguez recruited two accomplices, and on the afternoon of Feb. 27, 2009, Gina Scramuzza met Rodriguez and his helpers, Luis Hernandez and Erly Montoya, in the parking lot of the Wal Mart in Covington. She stopped at the bank, paid each of the accomplices $500, drove to her home, and left them there to wait for her husband.

Hernandez and Montoya testified that they were unaware of the murder plot and thought they were just going to burglarize the house, so they rounded up various electronics and other items they wanted. When Mario Scramuzza made it home, he was ambushed at gunpoint and strangled by Rodriguez.
Hernandez was found guilty of first degree murder in 2012 and received a life sentence. Montoya, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm, was sentenced to 35 years in the Department of Corrections on June 16. Rodriguez’s life sentence is without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
Rodriguez Carlos
Assistant District Attorneys Joey Oubre, Blake Peters, and Jerry Smith prosecuted the case.