NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he engaged in a scheme to kill a man to prevent him from reporting the deputy's alleged theft and misuse of his debit card.
A 60-count federal indictment unsealed earlier Monday charges the former deputy, Mark Hebert, with stealing Albert Bloch's debit card and using it to make dozens of unauthorized transactions after responding to a 2007 car accident that left the man hospitalized.
Hebert, 48, isn't explicitly charged with killing Bloch, but the indictment accuses him of either killing the man "with specific intent" or participating in unspecified conduct that caused his death.
Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said Bloch was reported missing but a body has never been found.
Hebert's attorney, Davidson Ehle, said his client didn't kill Bloch and will fight all the charges against him.
"He had nothing to do with the disappearance of Albert Bloch," Ehle said. "Certainly, we don't even know if Albert Bloch is dead or alive."
Hebert surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to all 60 counts at his arraignment later in the day. A magistrate ordered Hebert held without bond pending a detention hearing Thursday.
The indictment says Bloch reported the fraudulent charges that Hebert made and had his bank block the use of his card. Hebert, however, is accused of obtaining a replacement card for Bloch's account.
The indictment claims Bloch tried to cover his tracks by concealing Bloch's car in the rear of a Metairie apartment complex and keeping the key to the car in his police vehicle. He is also accused of taking bank documents from Bloch's home to get more information about his accounts.
The indictment lists tens of thousands of dollars in purchases that were made on Bloch's cards or funds that were transferred from his accounts.
The FBI and Jefferson Parish sheriff's office investigated the case. Hebert joined the sheriff's office in 1988 and was fired in November 2007, according to Fortunato.