One police officer put himself at great risk for calling out the corruption of the Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office in Houma, Louisiana. He didn’t know it would end up with a raid on his home, but he has finally been vindicated, as the actions of the Sheriff’s Office were deemed to be unconstitutional.
Police officer Wayne Anderson noticed wrongdoings by officials in the area of Houma, in which he served.
RT has the story:
However, he became the focus of many officials after his home was raided in early August, based on what he was suspected of sharing on a website called ExposeDAT as well as a Facebook page, under the name of “John Turner.”
The blog covered wrongdoings in the Southern Louisiana parish, including civil liberties lawsuits as well as fraud and corruption investigations. However, when Anderson began writing about Tony Alford, a local business owner and insurance agent for the parish government, things got complicated.
Alford was featured on ExposeDAT when public records revealed a few questionable issues. To start, his business partner was Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove and his office was managed by Priscilla Larpenter, wife of Sheriff Larpenter. Priscilla earned six figures to manage the office that ExposeDAT claims was managing the parish government’s healthcare without going through standard, public bids and proceedings.
That’s just the beginning, too. Anderson investigated citations Alford had received for dumping radioactive waste in Montana through a company owned by him and Dove.
All of this came to a head when Alford filed a criminal complaint against the blog, which allowed Larpenter to get a warrant to trace the IP numbers of ExposeDAT and the John Turner Facebook page. The warrant was approved by Judge Randall Bethancourt, who allowed officers to “take a look-see at these computers that might have defamatory statements on them,” the ABA Journal reported.
According to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, which was unanimous, the raid on Anderson’s home was deemed unconstitutional. The problem, as the court pointed out, is that taking a “look-see” is not within the Constitution’s provisions of a “reasonable cause.”
“Anthony Alford, the supposed victim, is president of the Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation Board of Louisiana, and a public official,” the decision read. “Consequently, the search warrant lacks probable cause because the conduct complained of is not a criminally actionable offense.”
Anderson and his wife, Jennifer, were targeted by the media investigating their criminal history, but failing to examine the criminal actions of the Sheriff’s office against the Constitution and the rights of the Andersons. For a fuller story of the events surrounding the raid, I would suggest reading the story from The Intercept by Naomi LaChance.
Jerri Smitko, one of the attorneys for the Andersons, told The Intercept, “I love it when justice is tangible.”
“With that piece of paper it says that what they did was unconstitutional — that’s a great feeling because you’re holding it in your hand and it’s vindication for people that they intended to oppress,” she said, holding the court’s ruling.
Smitko said she would be taking the ruling to the Terrbonne Parish Court and seeking to reclaim the family’s electronic devices.
“I certainly believe that my clients have been damaged by this unconstitutional action,” Smitko said. “They’ve been deprived of their rights, and I anticipate that we’ll be meeting shortly to discuss pursuing a claim for damages against the parties involved.”
The Attorney General’s office has decided to not appeal the ruling.
“We respect the First Circuit decision, we have no plans to appeal, and as far as the attorney general is concerned, the case is closed,” Ruth Wisher, press secretary for the attorney general, told The Intercept.
Anderson did not back down in any of his assertions about the corruption that was taking place in Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s office. From his Facebook page post:
Larpenter went after Anderson telling a local TV station, “They need to upgrade [criminal defamation] to a felony.”
“The media come and all the different outlets, even our local media, wrote unsatisfactory accusations about me like, ‘Oh, they got freedom of speech. They can say what they want.’ Well that’s not true,” he said.
Larpenter later said that he would have to “live with that ruling.”
However, though his office has been found to have acted lawlessly in this matter, he was still scheduled to be honored on August 15 and inducted in the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame. That was rescheduled due to the recent flooding in Louisiana.
The question I have is why would there be a rescheduling of honoring a man that sought to cover up his office’s illegal actions against one of the citizens it’s supposed to serve, especially when that citizen was exposing the office’s own corruption? Clearly, the corruption is much further up than just in the Sheriff’s office.