The sheriff in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana is going after a cop, who allegedly went on an anonymous website questioning the sheriff’s use of public money.
“If you’re gonna lie about me and make it under a fictitious name, I’m gonna come after you,” Sheriff Jerry Larpenter told WWL-TV.
The posts that were written on the anonymous website, “ExposeDAT”, question Larpenter’s public contracts—specifically those relating to the Tony Alford Insurance Agency.
The anonymous blogger questions why the sheriff’s wife is working for the same agency that bills the Sheriff‘s office monthly. The sheriff’s wife responded on Facebook, saying that it’s not the Alford agency, but rather Christian D. Lapeyre that gets those fees.
The anonymous blogger answers her, saying that public records show the two are partners and that the insurance agency uses the firm’s full name — Alford, Staples, Lapeyre & Robichaux –on the invoices sent to the sheriff.
Ethics attorney Dane Ciolino told WWL-TV that the contracts raise questions under state ethics laws. “That’s an issue for another day, but to squelch public comment about what is a public concern is quite extraordinary,” he said.
Houma police officer Wayne Anderson’s house was raided this week and he was reportedly told that he was being suspended because of “conduct unbecoming an officer.” Six sheriff’s deputies came to Anderson’s home and seized multiple laptops and several cell phones, in an attempt to prove that he was behind the public posts about the sheriff and his wife.
After Anderson’s belongings were seized, the judge who initially signed the warrant put a stay on it pending a hearing, the local CBS station reported.
The search warrant, which was executed on Tuesday, was based on “potential criminal defamation”– a statute the state Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional when used to ‘punish public expression’.
“People are afraid of retribution for expressing what is protected speech,” said Jerri Smitko, a Houma attorney who represents police officers.
“[the statute] is being used to target a man who’s a good police officer and a decent citizen… his rights are being trampled on,” Smitko said.
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