Indictment against former St. Bernard Sheriff’s deputy quashed
Ben Meyers of The Times-Picayune reports that a St. Bernard Parish judge last week nullified the August indictment of a former sheriff’s deputy who faced corruption-related charges stemming from a state investigation of former Parish President Dave Peralta. Judge Jeanne Juneau of the 34th Judicial District granted defendant Jarrod Gourgues’ motion to quash the five-count indictment because the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office released two subpoenas to WWL-TV.
The subpoenas were provided in response to a formal public-records request, but the release constituted an unlawful disclosure of secret grand jury materials, Juneau wrote in her May 25 order. The television station reported on the grand jury investigation the day before the indictment, and “thus, an opportunity was made to exert prejudice and influence on members of the grand jury,” Juneau wrote (NOLA.com).
Gourgues was charged with three counts of malfeasance, felony theft and perjury. The malfeasance charges were related to his business dealings with parish government and contractors, including a $10,000 payment he received from IT contractor ParaTech (NOLA.com).
Additionally, the grand jury found Gourgues was “de facto co-owner” of another parish contractor, Parish Lawn Care and Debris Removal. Gourgues was also accused of illegally accepting $50,000 through Parish Lawn Care from contractor Parish Waste and Recycling (NOLA.com).
The theft charge stemmed from Gourgues’ dual positions as a sheriff’s deputy and parish road director, the latter a result of Peralta’s appointment. The perjury count was related to Gourgues’ testimony before a grand jury (NOLA.com).
Former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office previously said the Gourgues charges were an “offshoot” of the inquiry that led to a 22-count indictment against Peralta delivered the same time Gourgues was charged (NOLA.com).
Gourgues’ attorney, Mike Magner, said he believes Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Office has walked away from the case. But Gourgues is preparing for a likely appeal by St. Bernard District Attorney Perry Nicosia’s office, Magner said. No one from Nicosia’s office was available on Tuesday evening (NOLA.com).
Steven Cannizaro, a spokesman for St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann, said that Pohlmann would not comment on the order (NOLA.com).
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