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Former Jennings police chief pleads guilty to malfeasance in office

Last Modified: Thursday, November 14, 2013 10:49 PM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

JENNINGS — A former Jennings police chief pleaded guilty Thursday in district court to two counts of malfeasance stemming from the theft of drugs and money from the Police Department’s evidence room.

Sentencing for Johnny Lassiter, 53, will be set after a presentencing investigation. He faces up to five years and a $5,000 fine on each count.

Judge Ronald Cox, who was appointed to the case by the Supreme Court after Judge Steve Gunnell recused himself, will impose the sentence at a later date.

As part of a plea agreement, charges of theft over $1,500 and obstruction of justice were dismissed.

Cox also ordered Lassiter to continue treatment.

Lassiter was arrested in January after a state police audit found that drugs and money were missing from the Police Department’s evidence room.

District Attorney Michael Cassidy said $4,000 in cash, more than 1,800 pills, marijuana and codeine were missing from the evidence room.

“Only two people had keys to the evidence room — Mr. Lassiter and Chief Todd D’Albor. And there was no evidence that Chief D’Albor had entered the room,” Cassidy said.

Lassiter admitted taking the pills and tampering with evidence, Cassidy said.

His actions may have affected nearly 72 criminal cases, he said.

Lassiter initially pleaded guilty to theft over $1,500, malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice charges in March. A charge of injuring public records was dismissed earlier.

Lassiter, who resigned from the department shortly before his arrest, served as police chief for four years and was the department’s evidence custodian at the time of his arrest.

He had worked for the Jennings Police Department since 1996 and previously worked for the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office and served in the Louisiana National Guard.

He received the department’s Medal of Honor and Purple Heart after being injured in a 2000 shooting that claimed the lives of Patrolman Burt LeBlanc and former police Capt. Kenny Guidry and his wife, Christine. Two other officers were also injured in the shooting.

Lassiter is represented by court-appointed attorney Robert “Bob” Sheffield Jr. of Lake Charles.

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