The hearse carrying the body of Dejuan Guillory is pictured here as it leaves the scene of the L’Anse Meg area where he was shot and killed last July. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)
The inset photo shows Deputy LaFleur’s injuries. (File Photo)
A house along Veterans Memorial Highway in the Mamou area sits in what looks like a pond for a front yard after a second round of thunderstorms hit Evangeline Parish in just four days. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)
Top stories of 2017
Evangeline Parish once again generated some memorable stories in 2017, and Ville Platte was no exception
There was a deputy involved shooting, a Ville Platte Deputy Marshal who was arrested for solicitation in Jefferson Davis Parish, a former Ville Platte police officer who settled a federal lawsuit and a former Ville Platte City Court judge who passed away.
In fact there was so much news in 2017 that a few notable events were not able to crack The Gazette’s Top Stories of 2017. Those that fell just short of making the list were:
A Ville Platte shooting occurred in April where an innocent woman was caught in the cross fire and killed. The Great American Solar Eclipse that occurred drew dozens of crowds to the Louisiana Arboretum. Louisiana’s U.S. Congressman from the 2nd District Steve Scalise was shot. Illegal immigrant Arturo Velazquez was sentenced for reentry to the United States. Legislative auditors reported theft by the Pine Prairie Police Clerk.
Below are the stories that did make the list, starting with No. 10
Long time City Judge Donald Launey, Jr., passes away
Donald J. Launey, Jr., who was a long time city court judge, passed away last May at the age of 71 after a lengthy illness.
He was elected to the bench in 1991 when he ran for the office to fill the vacancy created after J. Wendel Fusilier resigned to run for district attorney. Launey ran against Gary J. Ortego and Clyde Fontenot and defeated Ortego in the runoff. The love of his job and the way he conducted himself on the bench translated itself to reasons why he never faced opposition. He ran unopposed in each of the following elections and retired in 2014 because of his failing health.
Judge Launey left behind his wife Connie and two daughters, Yvette LeBlanc, a nurse anesthetist in Lafayette, and Nicole Gross, a pharmacist in Shreveport. He also left behind three grandchildren.
20 percent raise
Treasurer Donald Bergeron
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury at a special meeting on December 20 adopted the budget for 2018. The budget included a five-percent raise for general administration and most of the road employees subject to the performance review evaluations. Also included in the budget were an additional 13 percent raise for Karen Rider, an additional 15 percent raise for Debbie Faught, an additional five percent raise for Rachel West, and an additional 15 percent raise for Secretary-Treasurer Donald Bergeron. The total amount of the raises would bring those salaries to $146,192.00 plus benefits to $189,332.00.
The motion for the additional pay raise was passed by a vote of 5-3. Voting for the additional raises were Sidney Fontenot, Lamar Johnson, Daniel Arvie, Ryan “Leday” Williams, and Rocky Rider, and voting against the additional raises were Kevin Veillon, Eric Soileau, and Bryan Vidrine. Not voting as president was Ryan Ardoin.
In February, former Ville Platte Detective Nathaniel Savoy was sentenced to serve 18-months in federal prison for falsifying documents.
Savoy was arrested after he “entered into an agreement” with a civilian “to steal shingles from Doug Ashy Building Materials.”
To execute the burglaries, Savoy dropped off his partner in the crime at Doug Ashy in his “unmarked VPPD-issued Ford F-250 truck.”
Savoy then “drove across town to provide backup at a traffic stop.” Following the traffic stop, “the senior officer on the scene, ordered the other officers to check houses and local businesses” that were “miles from Doug Ashy.”
The former detective then returned to Doug Ashy, where his accomplice loaded the shingles into Savoy’s truck and then they left.
Savoy then proceeded to file a false police report, where he claimed to have noticed the shingles outside of the business so he decided to load them into his truck.
Savoy pled guilty to the charge of falsifying police documents in November of 2016 and is currently still serving his sentence.
Number seven on the list was the first major event to occur in 2017. On January 29, it was reported that Evangeline Parish Assistant District Attorney Timmy Fontenot had resigned from his position as a prosecutor.
His resignation came just one day after Fontenot faced a Louisiana Disciplinary Board for a hearing to address possible misconduct in a civil lawsuit that Fontenot was handling through his private law firm.
Through the board’s investigation, Fontenot was found to have settled a matter for his clients “without their consent,” and “forged their names on the settlement check and release documents.”
The board also found that Fontenot “lied and misled his clients regarding the amount of the settlement,” and “did not pay the settlement proceeds to his clients until 2013,” which was five years after Fontenot settled the matter.
In March, the disciplinary board recommended that Fontenot be disbarred from practicing law.
In November, the Louisiana Supreme Court officially disbarred Fontenot, stating in its decree, “his name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys and his license to practice law in the State of Louisiana shall be revoked.”
Sheriff pays back
$1 million loan
After a rocky financial year for the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2016, things started to look up for the department in 2017 after paying back a $1 million loan on time and ending the fiscal year with a surplus.
The EPSO first found itself in the red financially in August of 2016, which forced the sheriff to downsize by way of massive layoffs.
With a nearly broke EPSO, Sheriff Eddie Soileau addressed the Louisiana State Bond Commission in September of 2016 requesting to borrow $1 million. Present at the hearing with Soileau was Evangeline Parish Deputy Assessor Josh Fontenot, and Assessor Dirk Deville, whose office entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with EPSO to assist in creating a plan to address the department’s deficit.
On March 30, 2017, Sheriff Soileau announced that the loan, which had a maturity date of April 1, 2017, had officially been paid back.
During a June 15, 2017 meeting, the sheriff then shared that the EPSO had ended the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 with a $849,186 surplus.
More theft at the hands of an Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office employee was uncovered in 2017.
Former Chief Civil Deputy Bobbie Jo Fontenot was arrested in May of last year after a two week long investigation revealed that she had been stealing from the EPSO through a check substitution scheme.
In a release from the sheriff, he commended Josh Fontenot, CPA (Evangeline Parish Chief Deputy Assessor0, for uncovering the theft.
Bobbie Jo was booked into the parish jail on charges of theft over $1,500.00. She was released the same day of her arrest on a $20,000.00 bond.
Second Louisiana 100 year flood
For the second time in nine months, residents faced a massive amount of flooding that forced road and school closures parish wide. Much like the August 2016 flood, many residents of the parish were affected by the flood. However this flood seemed to concentrate more in the Mamou area. Mamou Mayor Ricky Fontenot stated that the canals were already full of water in Mamou with no where to drain.
According to the National Weather Service, Evangeline Parish had anywhere from three inches to all the way up to seven inches of rainfall that occurred during that period. That came on the heels of the heavy flooding that occurred the previous weekend. The National Weather Service estimated that Evangeline Parish received at least 10 inches of rainfall in the week from April 27 to May 4, with some areas of the parish receiving upwards of 15 inches of rain.
settles lawsuit for forcing women
Former police officer with the Ville Platte Police Department, Larry Fontenot, settled his lawsuit in federal court last January. The lawsuit was filed by women who were allegedly forced to expose themselves during an August 2015 roadside encounter.
The City of Ville Platte, VPPD Police Chief Neal Lartigue and Fontenot were all named as defendants in the lawsuit. Although this civil suit seemed to be taken care of, Fontenot was still awaiting his trial for the criminal charges that he faced. His trial date had been set for March 6, 2018, in Judge Chuck West’s courtroom.
Number two on this year’s list of top stories involves an incident where a Ville Platte Deputy Marshal was arrested by Jeff Davis Sheriff’s detectives in connection with a matter dealing with prostitution.
Arthur Phillips, 50, was arrested in May after he was accused of picking up 29-year-old Maria R. Joseph, of Ville Platte, having sex with her and then taking her to Fenton, La., where she performed sex acts with other people for money.
Phillips transported the female to Fenton in an unmarked car that belonged to his employer at the time, the Ville Platte City Marshal’s Office.
Since the incident, Phillips was let go from the marshal’s office.
In September of 2017, a Jeff Davis Parish grand jury returned a bill of indictment on Phillips for promoting prostitution, and his trial date was set for January 22, 2018.
Earning the number one spot for 2017’s top stories is none other than the deputy-involved shooting that claimed the life of DeJuan Guillory.
The incident occurred during a routine traffic stop at around 4:10 a.m. on July 6, 2017, in the Lanse Meg area.
The traffic stop turned deadly after an altercation ensued between the suspect (Guillory), who was pulled over for driving an ATV on a roadway, and Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Deputy, Holden LaFleur. During the altercation, the deputy was struck in the head by Guillory.
According to the Lousiana State Police investigation, LaFleur and Dequince Brown, who was with Guillory on the ATV, Guillory “wielded and struck Deputy LaFleur multiple times.”
When the deputy regained his composure, the deputy ordered Guillory on to the ground. As Deputy LaFleur attempted to handcuff the 27-year-old male, Brown jumped on the deputy’s back and “began to choke and bite him.”
Five and a half months after the incident occurred, grand jury proceedings began to determine whether Deputy LaFleur would face criminal charges for his actions.
In December, Evangeline Parish District Attorney Trent Brignac presented the findings from the Louisiana State Police’s investigation to the grand jury, who returned a no true bill of indictment on the deputy. This means that the deputy will not be criminally prosecuted.
This case has not been completely closed however.
Guillory’s girlfriend (Brown), currently has charges pending in connection to this incident.