Last Modified: Monday, June 23, 2014 10:39 AM
By Doris Maricle / American Press
JENNINGS — A former Jennings police chief has been sentenced to five years at hard labor with credit for time served after taking drugs and money from the police department's evidence room.
Johnny Lassiter, 53, was sentenced Monday in the 31st Judicial District Court by court-appointed Judge Ronald Cox. Cox was appointed to the case after District Judge Steve Gunnell rescued himself.
Lassiter pleaded guilty last November to two counts of malfeasance.
Charges of theft over $1,500, obstruction of justice and injuring public records were dismissed as part of an earlier plea agreement.
Cox sentenced Lassiter to five years at hard labor with credit for time served, but delayed the sentencing while he continues to undergo treatment in a federal program for veterans dealing with physical, mental and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Lassiter has already served about 18 months, including 30 days in a Calcasieu Parish jail, and continues to undergo treatment at a veterans facility in Pineville where he is also employed and undergoes regular drug screenings, Cox said.
He was also ordered to make $4,500 in restitution to the city and pay other court courts.
Lassiter was arrested in January 2013 after a State Police audit found $4,500 in cash,1,800 pills, more than 380 grams of cocaine, several pounds of marijuana and codeine missing from the evidence room.
His actions damaged 80-90 pending drug-related cases, according to Cox.
Lassiter, who resigned from the department prior to his arrest, has admitted to taking the pills and tampering with evidence. He told investigators he took the money and pills for himself, but destroyed the cocaine so he would not be tempted.
Lassiter had served as a patrol officer and was police chief for four years before becoming the department's evidence custodian.