Last Modified: Sunday, July 06, 2014 2:07 PM
A Sulphur businessman indicted in March on several charges was indicted on two new charges Thursday in state district court.
The new accusations are similar to the old ones — that from 2004 to 2012, Joe Palermo Jr., 70, possessed a stolen 2004 John Deere 650H bulldozer and that he altered and removed its manufacturer number.
The charges were added to the five he was indicted on in March. He is accused of forging the bill of sale for a 2004 John Deere 650H bulldozer and possessing a stolen 1996 John Deere 650G bulldozer; a stolen 1999 Takeuchi TB3175 excavator; and a 32-foot Bourg gooseneck trailer.
He is also accused of removing the trailer’s manufacturer number.
Defense attorney Carl Koch called the new indictment “game-playing.”
“Now we have seven baseless charges instead of five baseless charges,” Koch said. “The DA’s office is focusing on quantity, not quality.”
He said the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office looked into the subject of the new charges last year and “found no basis to take action,” and that the allegations were part of the state police investigation that led to the initial indictment.
Palermo was also arrested in May for intimidating a witness, but the charge was later dropped.
On Wednesday, Koch and fellow defense attorney Todd Clemons asked Judge Ron Ware to quash grand jury subpoenas for two employees of Palermo.
In a motion, the attorneys alleged that state police told the witnesses “to not tell the Defendant that they will be testifying before the grand jury.” The troopers discussed matters related to the previous indictment, the defense attorneys said. They claim the District Attorney’s Office planned to use the grand jury to further investigate the previous indictment — which would be improper.
“To remove any doubt about the State’s intentions, the troopers told each of the witnesses that they would be asked questions regarding these same matters before the grand jury,” the motion reads.
The witnesses were to testify about new accusations, District Attorney John DeRosier and Assistant District Attorney Carla Sigler told Ware.
Ware did not quash the subpoenas, allowing the witnesses to testify Thursday, although he is supposed to hear further testimony at a hearing later this month.
Shortly after the indictment was returned, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury voted 7-5 to reappoint Palermo as a member of the West Calcasieu Airport Authority board.
Five police jurors voted to appoint Rodney Fruge, a recommendation made by District 15 Police Juror Les Farnum. Farnum and District 12 Police Juror Ray Taylor both serve as liaisons to the board.
Farnum said he and Taylor agreed the board needed representation from an unincorporated area. He said Palermo lives in Sulphur. “I feel like ... the Carlyss community needs better representation on this board,” Farnum said.
District 13 Police Juror Francis Andrepont said the appointment is “not a liaison appointment (but) a Police Jury appointment.” He said Palermo has served on the airport board for 25 years.
“Without him, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think there would be a Southland Field,” Andrepont said.
Voting in favor of reappointing Palermo were Andrepont, Elizabeth Griffin, Kevin Guidry, Tony Guillory, Chris Landry, Tony Stelly and Sandra Treme.
Farnum, Nic Hunter, Hal McMillin, Shannon Spell and Taylor voted to appoint Fruge.