Archive for July, 2012

Lacombe Man Booked With Vehicular Homicide

Monday, July 16th, 2012

At approximately 2:20 AM, early Sunday morning, the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting that a vehicle drove off the Main St. boat launch in Lacombe.  The driver was able to swim to shore, but the passenger drowned inside the vehicle.

Dispatchers received a 911 call from Brandon Devezin (White male, D.O.B.  07/23/77 – 2112 Lapuirouse St, New Orleans) who reported the he drove his vehicle into Bayou Lacombe.  Devezin was unable to give his location, however dispatchers quickly used the coordinates from his cell phone to pin point his location to the Main St. Boat Launch.  When deputies arrived, they were informed that the passenger was still inside the vehicle.  Deputies with the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team were dispatched to the scene along with a diver from Slidell Police Department, who was on duty that night.

At approximately 3:00 AM divers recovered the body of Devezin’s passenger from inside the vehicle, which was located approximately 130 feet from the launch.  Contact the Coroner’s Office for identity of the passenger.  Devezin admitted to drinking alcohol at a local bar prior to driving his vehicle into the bayou.  Deputies detected clues of impairment and transported Devezin to the hospital to draw blood for analysis.  Toxicology is pending at the State Police Crime Lab.  Devezin was booked into the parish jail on the following charges:

L.R.S. 14:32.1 – Vehicular Homicide

L.R.S. 32:300 – Open Container

Devezin is currently still incarcerated at the jail with a combined bond amount of $100,750.00.

Domestic Disturbance Leads to Stabbing Death

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Joan Hartman

A 27-year old Slidell area woman was stabbed to death early Sunday and her boyfriend’s mother has been booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail for one count of L.R.S. 14:30.1 – second degree murder.

Just after midnight Sunday morning, deputies were dispatched to a residence on Brookter St. in the Slidell area in response to a reported stabbing.  Responding deputies encountered the victim’s boyfriend outside the home.  The couple was living in the home with his parents.  The husband led deputies inside, where they discovered the victim lying on the floor of the home, suffering from stab wounds, and another woman standing over her, yelling at her.  The woman was later identified as Joan Faye Hartman (w/f – 219 Brookter St – DOB: 2/24/1958).

Deputies administered first aid to the victim until Acadian Ambulance transported her to Ochsner Northshore hospital for further treatment.  It was later learned the victim died from her injuries.

In the process of securing the home, deputies discovered Mrs. Hartman’s husband and the victim’s two children, all asleep in their bedrooms.

Mrs. Hartman was arrested at the scene and transported to the Sheriff’s Slidell complex for questioning, during which she admitted to stabbing the victim.

Hartman remains in the St. Tammany Parish Jail without bond.  Second degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence at hard labor without parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

Sheriff’s Office Will Not Increase Millage Rate

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

In a public meeting this afternoon, Sheriff Jack Strain announced the agency will not increase the millage rate used to calculate the Sheriff’s Office property tax revenue this year.

The Sheriff’s Office has held its millage without an increase for the past several years.

“It is extremely challenging to maintain a balanced budget with no adjustment while the cost of providing services continues to increase sharply. Gas prices alone are wreaking havoc on many public entities’ budgets. However, I know that in the current economic climate we all have to tighten our belts and do more with less. I could not in good conscience ask the residents of St. Tammany to pay more taxes this year. We were committed to whatever had to be done not to increase their property taxes,” Sheriff Strain said.

For the 2012 tax year, the STPSO has adopted a reduced millage rate of 11.66 mils.

Approximately $100,000 in extra revenue would have been generated if the Sheriff’s Office had set their rate to the maximum allowable level.

Each taxing body’s millage is determined separately. Though the Sheriff’s Office is holding their rate this year without an increase, residents are reminded that other agencies in the parish may adjust their rate, which could have an effect on their overall property tax bill.

Southshore Man Booked in Twin-Span Scrap Scam

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

St. Tammany Sheriff’s investigators arrested a Metairie man last week in connection with the theft of approximately $750,000 worth of scrap materials from the old twin spans, Sheriff Jack Strain announced this morning.

Jason Hedges (4409 Hearst St #329, Metairie, LA – DOB: 3/10/1978) was booked June 19th with one count of L.R.S. 14:67.B.1 – Theft over $1,500. He was released the same day on $50,000 bond.

Hedges was working for NASDI, LLC, a demolition contractor tasked with the removal of the old twin spans. Part of the contract involved NASDI recycling or selling for scrap some of the materials after the bridges were demolished.

Company officials became concerned when they noticed a suspicious lack of proper record-keeping with the job. NASDI representatives initially contacted N.O.P.D., who referred the case to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office when the theft was determined to have occurred on the northshore.

Hedges’ scheme involved the delivery of a portion of the metal scrap to unsanctioned recycling and scrap firms in exchange for cash payments. Based on information provided by NASDI, investigators estimate approximately $750,000 worth of scrap was diverted to these other firms. Detectives have traced over $300,000 in cash payments to Hedges.

The cash payments began in November of 2011 and continued through May of this year.

Investigators are still determining whether Hedges acted alone or if there were others involved in the scheme.

The penalty for theft over $1,500 carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment at hard labor and a fine of up to $3,000.

Sheriff’s Office Recovers Estimated $50,000 in Stolen Property

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Sheriff’s Office investigators have recovered stolen property with an estimated value of $50,000 and placed a Slidell area man under arrest in connection with the thefts.

Jorge Alberto Munguia-Martinez (2006 Churchill St, Slidell – DOB: 10/21/79) was booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail yesterday with one count of L.R.S. 14:67.B.1 – Theft over $1,500. Additional charges for theft and possession of stolen property are expected as the investigation continues. His bond has not yet been set on the theft charge; however, an immigration hold has been placed on him.

The arrest yesterday stemmed from the recovery of a golf cart stolen on May 25th from a Lacombe residence. Investigators working on that case obtained video surveillance of Martinez loading the golf cart on to a trailer that he backed into the driveway of the residence. The investigation into that original case has tied Martinez to five other thefts in the Slidell area.

Detectives determined the trailer Martinez used to steal the golf cart was itself stolen during an earlier incident. Martinez’s crime wave started on May 15th when he stole a flatbed utility trailer loaded with a Cub Cadet riding lawn mower and a push mower from a Slidell area home. In two separate incidents, Martinez later stole two enclosed trailers loaded with lawn equipment and tools as well as a John Deere riding lawn mower.

Detectives were able to solve the case by using a general description of Martinez and his truck from surveillance video. Patrol deputies were made aware of the description and were on the lookout for similar vehicles. A patrol deputy, acting on this information, stopped and interviewed Martinez. The patrol deputy notified detectives, who were able to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Martinez. During a subsequent interview with detectives, Martinez confessed to five different thefts.

While recovering various stolen items from area pawn shops, detectives learned that Martinez had pawned items stolen from Hancock County, Mississippi, as well. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is now involved in a joint investigation into Martinez’s crime spree. Detectives expect soon to secure warrants for the four remaining thefts and execute them while Martinez is in the parish jail. Martinez also faces possible charges and extradition to Mississippi pending the Hancock County authorities’ investigation.

The owners of the recovered property have all been identified.

The penalty for theft over $1,500 carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment at hard labor and a fine of up to $3,000.