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Deputy stepping away from department, focusing on campaign for sheriff amid internal turmoil

1 year 3 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, February 01 2023 Feb 1, 2023 February 01, 2023 3:26 PM February 01, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

PORT ALLEN - A major with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office — who's now campaigning to be the department's next sheriff — is distancing himself from an internal mess at the agency exposed in recent months by the WBRZ Investigative Unit.

Zack Simmers published an announcement to his campaign page Wednesday saying that he is taking leave from the department later this month. Simmers cited the need for "a new direction" and more "transparency" at the sheriff's office as his reason for taking a step back. 

Simmers, a 19-year veteran with the department, says he plans to use his time away from WBRSO to focus on his campaign for sheriff.

The announcement comes just a day after WBRZ exposed details of the allegations against one of the agency's own employees. Mandy Miller, who was paid more than $70,000 a year to process traffic tickets, allegedly manipulated the department's system to pocket more than $158,000 over the course of four years.

Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto first exposed the missing money last year. Sources told WBRZ that Miller was kept on the payroll for months, even after she reportedly admitted to taking money. 

Last week, WBRZ obtained video showing Miller being escorted to the jail and learned she was given special treatment along the way.

Sheriff Mike Cazes has been silent on the situation, even as investigations unfold at parish and state levels. Over the weekend, leaders at the department grilled their own detectives trying to figure out who was leaking information about the arrest to WBRZ. 

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