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Month: October 2019

Jury Convicts Slidell Man of Aggravated Rape of Juvenile

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jury Convicts Slidell Man of Aggravated Rape of Juvenile

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Shane Pagano, 43, of Slidell, guilty Oct. 17 of aggravated/first degree rape of a victim under 13. Pagano faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced by District Judge Raymond Childress on Nov. 4.

During the trial last week, jurors heard testimony that Pagano raped the victim from the time she was about 3 years old until she was nearly 13.  Jurors deliberated about 3½ hours before voting unanimously to convict him.

Pagano also has prior convictions, including two felony theft convictions and two domestic abuse battery convictions.

Assistant District Attorneys Blake Peters and Holly McGinness prosecuted the case. It was investigated by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The victim’s forensic interviews were conducted by professionals at The Children’s Advocacy Center – Hope House.

D.A.’s Legal Education Program

District Attorney Warren Montgomery’s office gave about 50 students from two St. Tammany Parish Public Schools a close-up look at the criminal justice system recently through the office’s Kids LEAD (Legal Education And Discovery) Program. Montgomery’s staff developed the program in partnership with St. Tammany schools to provide information to help students stay safe and make good decisions, while also exposing them to a variety of legal careers. The participants were students in the Law Studies classes at Covington and Salmen high schools. The presentations included: an explanation of the criminal justice system by Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims; a visit to District Judge William “Rusty” Knight’s courtroom for a talk from him about the consequences of bad decisions; a mock grand jury, led by Assistant District Attorney Ronnie Gracianette; a presentation by the Children’s Advocacy Center – Hope House about child abuse; an interactive activity and talk by Assistant District Attorney Sharry Scott and Investigator Molly Richmond about juvenile crimes and misdemeanors; and a presentation on cyber-crimes by a Special Agent from the Louisiana Department of Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Unit. The Kids LEAD program will be held again in the Spring. 

Mandeville Woman Gets 22 Years In Prison For Trying To Kill Her Former Attorney

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August 16, 2019

Mandeville Woman Gets 22 Years In Prison For Trying To Kill Her Former Attorney

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Patricia M. Currie, 78, of Mandeville, was sentenced Thursday (Oct. 24) by District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher to 22 years in prison for the attempted second degree murder of her former attorney.

A St. Tammany Parish jury found Currie guilty of the crime after a four-day trial in August.  The attorney, who had represented Currie in a bankruptcy case, was alone in a back office at his law firm on Oct. 27, 2016, when he walked into the lobby area and discovered Currie sitting in a chair with latex gloves covering her hands, plastic grocery bags on her feet, and a white towel across her lap. Currie didn’t have an appointment and announced that she had come to kill him. She then moved the towel, revealing a shotgun in her lap. She raised her gun at him, but he was able to wrestle the weapon from her and call police. When St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested Currie on the scene, they discovered the gun was loaded and that she had four additional shotgun shells in her undergarments, as well as a box of ammunition in her car. The jury rejected Currie’s claims that she intended only to scare her former attorney.

At the contested sentencing hearing Thursday, Assistant District Attorneys Blair Alford and Angad S. Ghai, who prosecuted the case, argued for a sentence of 50 years, the maximum allowed by state law, while Currie’s attorneys asked for the minimum of 10 years. The victim gave an emotional statement, recalling the terrifying events of that day and how he could think only of his wife and children as he fought for his life.  His wife also explained through tears how the crime continues to haunt the family, with the couple’s children living in fear that their father could be killed every day just going to work. Three other witnesses also testified about disturbing interactions they experienced with Currie.

To support their push for the maximum sentence, prosecutors noted the calculated nature and severity of the crime, Currie’s own statements and testimony during trial, and letters she wrote, stating that she understands why people “like blowing up buildings and opening fire on anybody & everybody.”  She added in the letter, “That’s the way I feel.”

In announcing the 22-year sentence, Zaunbrecher said he considered the violent nature of crime, the fact that Currie used a firearm/dangerous weapon to facilitate the crime, her lack of truthfulness and candor with the court, her lack of remorse throughout the case and her apparent lack of remorse even during the sentencing hearing. He said those considerations were mitigated by the fact that she had no prior convictions.

Jury Finds Franklinton Man Guilty of Sex Crimes

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Oct. 25, 2019

Jury Finds Franklinton Man Guilty of Sex Crimes

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a Washington Parish jury found Andrew Fonz Hunt, 43, of Franklinton, guilty as charged Wednesday (Oct. 23) of aggravated incest and molestation. He is scheduled for sentencing by District Judge Peter Garcia on Dec. 5 and faces 25 to 99 years in prison on the aggravated incest charge for a victim under 13 and five to 40 years for molestation.

The victim disclosed to a high school counselor in 2017 that Hunt had been sexually abusing her since she was 8 years old. The victim had reported the sexual abuse to other adults previously, but they refused to believe her. Hunt also had been physically abusive to the victim and threatened to harm her. The victim ultimately was able to receive counseling and support from a family member and the Children’s Advocacy Center – Hope House.

The victim testified during the three-day trial, and the jury deliberated about 2½ hours before finding Hunt guilty.

After Hunt’s arrest, another victim came forward and accused Hunt of sexually abusing her when she was 12 years old. The second victim, who is now an adult, also testified this week during Hunt’s trial.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Weilbaecher, Jr. It was investigated by Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Demi Rice.

 

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Gets Sentenced For Malfeasance

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Oct. 23, 2019

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Gets Sentenced For Malfeasance

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Jordan Hollenbeck, 35, a former narcotics officer for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, was sentenced by District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher on Wednesday (Oct. 23) to two years in prison, followed by two years of suspended prison time and probation on the three counts of malfeasance in office to which Hollenbeck had pleaded guilty on Oct. 1. Montgomery’s prosecutors sought the maximum sentence authorized by the malfeasance statute, more specifically five years of incarceration.

Hollenbeck admitted to using his position as a narcotics officer to alert two drug dealers, including one who was supplying him with Oxycodone, that they were the subjects of an undercover operation by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.  At the hearing, Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Authement presented two witnesses to help make their case for the maximum penalty.  A local pain management physician testified that Hollenbeck alerted him in March 2017 that he was the subject of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation. DEA Special Agent Salvador Scalia testified Hollenbeck’s actions were a “very egregious offense” that put the lives of fellow law enforcement officers in extreme danger.

Sims argued passionately against Hollenbeck’s request for a sentence of probation. He said Hollenbeck’s conduct was an embarrassment to the parish and law enforcement community. “It’s conduct like this that erodes confidence in the entire system,” Sims said.

Hollenbeck gave a tearful statement, admitting that his addiction had cost him his home and family.  “I’m sorry for everything,” he said. “I’m sorry for the officers I betrayed. I’m sorry for the people I put in danger…I’m sorry to my family. I’m truly sorry.”

In issuing the sentence, Judge Zaunbrecher said the damage to the public trust was among the aggravating factors he considered. But Zaunbrecher said he also considered that Hollenbeck had no prior criminal history, was a combat veteran who had been honorably discharged, and that he was an opioid addict.

Zaunbrecher mandated supervised probation and drug testing for Hollenbeck during the two years following his prison sentence.

Grand Jury Indicts Slidell Man on Pornography and Sex Crimes Involving Juveniles

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Oct. 18, 2019

Grand Jury Indicts Slidell Man on Pornography and Sex Crimes Involving Juveniles

COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Michael Lee Reynolds, 56, of Slidell, Thursday (Oct. 17) on charges of first degree rape of a victim under 13, two counts of molestation of a juvenile under 13, 20 counts of production of pornography involving juveniles under 13, and 51 counts of possession of pornography involving juveniles under 13.

Reynolds is accused of raping a two-year-old child between October 2018 and June 2019 and molesting a 4-year-old child between June 2017 and April 2019. He also is accused of producing and possessing pornography of children under 13.

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland presented the case to the grand jury.

 

Grand Jury Indicts Covington Man For Sex Crimes Involving Five Juveniles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oct. 18, 2019

Grand Jury Indicts Covington Man For Sex Crimes Involving Five Juveniles

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Charles Michael Folse, II, 32, of Covington, Thursday (Oct. 17) on three counts of first degree aggravated rape of a victim under 13, six counts of molestation of a juvenile, and one count of sexual battery.

The charges involve five juvenile victims over a time period that ranged from April 2007 to June 2019.

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland presented the case to the grand jury.

 

 

 

DA Warren Montgomery at Northshore Business Council Meeting

District Attorney Warren Montgomery thanked the Northshore Business Council Thursday during the group’s meeting in Madisonville for financing a study that has been evaluating the criminal justice system. As the guest speaker for the group’s membership meeting, Montgomery said the study by the Metropolitan Crime Commission, has been invaluable in helping his administration assess the success of systemic changes he has put in place over the past four years.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery was the guest speaker St. Tammany Municipal Association’s Quarterly Meeting

District Attorney Warren Montgomery was the guest speaker Wednesday night at the St. Tammany Municipal Association’s Quarterly Meeting in Folsom. The lovely Southern Charm Event Center was packed to capacity with city, town, and village leaders from throughout St. Tammany Parish, as well as state and parish officials and candidates, who all mingled over drinks and great food and listened to D.A. Montgomery’s message about the progress his administration has made over the past four years.