Judge: Palermo entitled to see warrant

By By John Guidroz / American Press

State district court Judge Ron Ware

ruled Monday that an arrest warrant affidavit for Sulphur businessman

Joe Palermo Jr.

should be produced so he can prepare for a preliminary hearing

next month, following his arrest for intimidating witnesses.

Prosecutor Carla Sigler said she will appeal the ruling. Ware said the appeal should be filed by June 19.

Palermo, 70, was indicted in March for having stolen property and forging a bill of sale for a piece of heavy equipment. He

was arrested May 23 for intimidating witnesses. The preliminary hearing for the most recent arrest is set for July 2.

He was charged with one count of

forgery, three counts possession of stolen things and one count of

altering or removing identifying

numbers of a motor vehicle. He pleaded not guilty to the charges

in state district court May 9.

Defense attorney Karl Koch said Palermo has a constitutional right to have access to the affidavit. He said Palermo should

be “fully advised of the reasons of his arrest.”

“There’s a presumption of more information, not less,” he said. “The defendant has the right after an arrest to challenge

that arrest.”

Koch said the arrest warrant is a “court document” and should be filed and kept with the Clerk of Court.

Sigler disagreed, saying the warrant is not a court document “until a formal charge against the defendant is filed.” She said

the District Attorney’s office does not have the warrant “at this time.”

“The D.A. (has), under the law, four

years to decide whether to prosecute the defendant on the charge for

which he was arrested,”

Sigler said. “We are well within our time limits to take time to

consider the charges.”

Sigler said the arresting officer is undergoing training in Baton Rouge this week, but he will prepare a report and submit

it to the District Attorney’s office.

Sigler said producing the arrest warrant is also a danger to the witness. Defense attorney Todd Clemons said there was no

evidence whatsoever of any danger to the witness.