HAMMOND – Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards released a statement about the FBI raid on his office Thursday.
Friday afternoon was the first time the sheriff spoke publicly about the situation. Also raided by the federal government was the Hammond Police Department. City officials have yet to comment.
Statement from Sheriff Edwards
As you know, yesterday the FBI executed search warrants at the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department in connection with the federal government’s ongoing investigation into the DEA task force that had been operating in our parish.
I cannot provide any details about the investigation or the search warrant, because these matters are under seal by court order. I would tell you to direct any and all questions to the FBI.
I can tell you that my office has cooperated with the federal authorities since the beginning of their investigation, that aside from the two individuals who have been charged—Karl Newman and Johnny Domingue—no one in the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has been notified that they are targets of the federal investigation, and that we will continue to cooperate with the federal government.
Additionally, I know that yesterday was an inconvenience to many of you who were trying to come in and pay your property taxes. I want to apologize for that, and I want the public to know that we are open for business today and that my staff and the many fine sheriff’s’ deputies here are continuing their good work serving the citizens of our parish.
Lastly, it’s that time of the year when there are many parties between now and the end of the year. I implore each you to be responsible by buckling up, and never to drink and drive.
I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Thursday, federal agents stormed the offices of the sheriff on Club Deluxe Road and the Hammond Police Department. The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge and New Orleans reported agents seized computers, cellphones and case files from both departments. The search was part of an expanding federal investigation into a corrupt drug task force with members that have ties to the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office.
Law enforcement officers on a New Orleans-based Drug Enforcement Administration task force are accused of stealing money from drug dealers they've investigated and selling confiscated drugs. Witnesses have also been tampered with, according to reports on the year-long case.
The FBI would not elaborate on the search Thursday.
Hammond Mayor Pete Panepinto's office said he would not be making a comment about the raid. Panepinto appointed Hammond Police Chief James Stewart, who has a background in narcotics investigations and was a federal agent.
It is not clear who, if any one was the target of the raids Thursday.
Sheriff Edwards is the brother of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The Goveror's office said it had no comment about the raid Thursday.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz