Zurik: Four troopers arrested after ‘State of Unrest’ probe

Zurik: Four troopers arrested after 'State of Unrest' probe
Updated: Apr. 30, 2018 at 7:39 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Four state troopers have been arrested and charged for illegal conduct in the LACE ticket-writing program.

The charges against the troopers are the result of a FOX 8 investigation from last year, "State of Unrest". Our series used hundreds of hours of video surveillance to find state troopers being paid for work they didn't perform.

Daryl Thomas made more money than any other law enforcer in the state, making $240,000 in each of the last two years. Now, Thomas is charged with illegally earning some of that money.

The East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney charged him with two counts of filing false public records and one count of felony theft - greater than $15,000.

Our investigation followed Thomas for 12 different work days. What we found: For all 12 days, Thomas claimed hours on his timesheet he didn't work.

"You don't have to take a class in criminal law to know that you can't submit fraudulent timesheets.," Tulane law professor Joel Friedman told us in a 2017 interview.

For example, last September 4, on Labor Day, Thomas billed taxpayers for 16 hours. The first six hours, he worked a ticket-writing overtime shift in St. Charles Parish. Then, from noon to 10:00 p.m., his timesheet shows he worked his regular State Police shift.

But our undercover camera caught Thomas at home from 11:10 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. almost six hours of that work day, Thomas didn't work.

We also had our surveillance unit on state trooper Byron Sims. For five different Fridays, we found Sims arriving home well before his LACE ticket-writing shift ended.

LACE is short for "Local Agency Compensated Enforcement" detail. Local parish governments contract with State Police to have troopers write tickets on highways in their parish.

On August 4, Sims reported working a LACE shift in St. John Parish until 6:00 p.m,; we spotted his car arriving home around 1:30. Another example: August 18, his St. Charles Parish LACE detail ended at 6:00 p.m. But we found his car at his Orleans Parish home at 12:55.

Sims is charged with four counts of filing a false public record and one count of felony theft greater than $21,000.

Sims and Thomas could face up to 10 years behind bars for the theft charges, up to five years for the false public records charges.

When they launched a criminal investigation, State Police looked at other troopers. And Monday, two more officers were charged:

  • Trooper Wayne Taylor from the Alexandria area, 14 counts of injuring a public record;
  • Former trooper Jimmy Rogers from Lake Charles, 74 counts of injuring a public record.

State Police spent almost six months investigating these troopers. They subpoenaed our undercover video, analyzed cell phone records, tickets and timesheets, and today concluded four broke the law, illegally earning taxpayer money.

According to the district attorney, police responsible for enforcing the law broke the law themselves.

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