THE INVESTIGATORS: Expungements carried out tied to potential BRPD corruption
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Months after several investigations were launched into potential corruption within the Baton Rouge Police Department narcotics division, several folks wrongly put behind bars had a chance to get their lives back on track Saturday.
“I just want this to be over with,” one man who took advantage of the opportunity said.
Dozens of folks showed up Saturday and the expungement event was full before the doors even opened for the day. It’s the first such event that has been able to happen since the pandemic and organizers say they are pleased to offer the vital service.
“We’re probably at the end of the day going to serve over 80 people and because of the great turnout, we’ve committed to continue this event throughout the summer as long really as it’s needed,” said Jermain Guillory with the District Attorney’s Office.
Back in March, 640 drug and weapons charges were dropped by the District Attorney’s Office and a month later the 9News Investigators uncovered dozens more cases were also tossed out linked directly back to former BPRD officers Jason Acree and Jeremiah Ardoin. Ardoin blew the whistle on more alleged corruption within the agency after his arrest, claiming that officers planted drugs on innocent people, stole drugs and operated on an arrest quota system. Those claims led to four high-ranking officers within the division to be reassigned and Acree to be arrested four times. Acree’s most recent arrest was for drug and weapons charges of his own. The disgraced officer was picked up just last week after Louisiana State Police troopers caught him allegedly drag racing down I-10.
The fallout continues to unfold as five separate investigations have been launched and an audit set in motion within the department. Today, several of the folks tied up in all this though were able to put one foot in front of the other to overcome some of what the arrest on their record has done to their lives.
“I think that this is an attempt to try and help heal what happened but I want to be clear that while we are working very hard to help make sure that people are not experiencing any continuing barriers as a result of that unlawful arrest,” said Lindsay Blouin, deputy chief public defender for EBR.
While it won’t fully make up for what they went through, advocates with the Public Defender’s Office hope it will at least be a start.
”We’re never going to be able to restore them to where they were before they were arrested by this unit,” said Alaina Bloodworth. “I know we’re here today to try to give some of those opportunities back such as employment and housing because felonies on your record or even misdemeanors can affect all of that.”
Local attorney Ron Haley has said he plans to move forward with a class action lawsuit for those affected by the ongoing BRPD narcotics probe but so far there has been no word on how soon that will happen.
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