Investigators: Sorrento PD needs to clean up its act

SORRENTO, LA (WAFB) - Investigators who spent the last two months investigating complaints against the Sorrento Police Department said the agency needs to clean up its act.

Sorrento has been the focus of several investigations for more than a year. In August, a long list of allegations of wrong-doing within the police department fell into the hands of 23rd District Attorney Ricky Babin. They included claims of payroll fraud, private use of public funds and destruction of evidence.

He called on the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office to investigate.

"Although I think they (Sorrento) did a poor job, the sheriff found no criminal activity as far as malfeasance allegations, and I agree with their conclusions," Babin said.

While he does not believe a crime was committed, Babin said some of the findings indicate the Sorrento Police Department needs a serious overhaul.

"The police chief has allowed officers to use private vehicles for certain details. I think the issue there was record keeping."

Babin said there were nine instances where officers were overlapping the time they recorded working for the town and special duty detail.

He said Chief Earl Theriot was keeping bi-weekly records of timesheets when he should have been doing it daily.

But the most concerning finding Babin said the sheriff's office found was the Sorrento Police Department's failure to properly handle evidence.

"They need to adopt an evidence gathering, evidence storing and evidence disposal procedure."

Chief Theriot told 9News the findings in the investigation were about what he was expecting. He said he intends to take the recommendations from the district attorney into consideration and start rebuilding a new and better policy at the police department.

Babin said the sheriff is still investigating an allegation involving a missing weapon that was seized by Sorrento police. He said it is not clear where the evidence came from and why it left Sorrento's possession.

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