Former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office employee and Louisiana woman charged in bribery scheme
AMITE - As of Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, authorities say two former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office employees have been charged for their connection to a bribery scheme.
United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced Wednesday that 58-year-old Sonja Dyson Evans of Ponchatoula and 51-year-old Shawanda Dove of Amite were charged with use of an interstate facility with intent to carry on unlawful activity.
Court records indicate that at the time of the offense, Evans was employed by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office as a Criminal Records Division Supervisor. From January 2016 through January 2017, both Evans and Dove used cell phones to carry out a bribery scheme.
Evans solicited and accepted bribe money from Dove in exchange for fraudulent bonds used for the release of incarcerated persons.
Officials say that if convicted, both women face a maximum penalty of five (5) years incarceration, a $250,000 fine, a three (3) year term of supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00.
Of course, all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in investigating this matter and Assistant United States Attorney Tracey Knight is in charge of the prosecution.
A total of ten individuals were arrested in connection with the scheme back in 2017, according to the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office (TSD).
Those individuals have been identified as Shawanda Dove of Independence, Bridgette Harper of Hammond, Ronald Berry of Hammond and Donald Bickham of Hammond, criminal records supervisor Sgt. Sonja Evans, Latecial Milton, Crystal Knight, Racquelle Collins, Robert Smith and Kedrick Carlson.
TSD said that Berry, an inmate of the Tangipahoa Parish Jail, was freed on a $280,000 property surety bond in November. The investigation by the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office revealed that Berry set up the illegal bond with several others.
According to TSD, Berry's girlfriend, Harper, and her brother, Bickham, sent the payment to Dove who received forged bond paperwork from another party. This led to his release from jail.
TSD said their charges are conspirary for the illegal consideration of criminal bail bonds, conspiracy to commit forgery, false personation and injuring public records.
The arrests began in January, following an investigation into six employees with the TSD who were linked to illegal bond activity began on Dec. 27.
According to Sheriff Edwards, at that time six employees were either terminated or placed on administrative leave.
Immediately following the arrests Smith and Carlson were charged with one count of conspiracy for illegal consideration of criminal bail bonds. Collins was charged with one count of illegal consideration of illegal bail bonds.
Meanwhile, Evans was charged with 15 counts including forgery, injuring public records and malfeasance in office. Evans eventually resigned.
Knight was charged with 19 offenses, including forgery, injuring public records, malfeasance in office and illegal consideration of bail bonds. Knight was terminated from TPSO for unrelated reasons on Dec. 13.
Milton was charged with one count of malfeasance in office. Milton was on administrative leave but was terminated and is no longer employed by TPSO.