On July 18th, detectives with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted a search of a vehicle used to transport inmates to a work detail with a parish municipality. During the search, multiple cell phones and containers of tobacco were found in a carry-bag inside the vehicle. Tyson Sonnier, the deputy who was assigned to drive that vehicle, was immediately placed on administrative leave and his commission was pulled pending the outcome of multiple ensuing investigations.
The investigations were centered on whether or not any of those or similar items had been introduced into the jail itself. While none of the items in question are illegal to possess, they are of common interest to inmates and are prohibited, as contraband, in the jail.
Two separate investigations followed the discovery. One was completed by detectives, and another by jail administrative investigators. Dozens of interviews were conducted and physical evidence was collected and examined.
During their investigation, detectives determined that in an unrelated incident another individual, Porscha Montana (72429 Violet St., Covington – DOB: 7/26/88), had been placing synthetic marijuana at predetermined locations where the inmates were scheduled to work. After interviewing Montana, she was arrested (August 6th) and booked into the St. Tammany Parish jail with L.R.S. 14:402 – contraband in penal institutions. Montana’s activities are being treated as separate and distinct from Sonnier’s, as detectives were unable to establish a connection between their actions.
As a result of the jail’s administrative investigation, Sonnier’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office has been terminated.
“The residents of St. Tammany demand and deserve deputies who hold themselves to the very highest moral, ethical and legal standards. Our agency cannot operate effectively without the public’s complete trust in the men and women who serve them,” said Chief Deputy Brian Trainor.