They allegedly lied to get Red Cross money that was earmarked for hurricane victims. Now, two East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputies have been forced to resign and could face criminal charges.
Col. Greg Phares would not say how much Red Cross money the two deputies received, nor would he say how they allegedly lied to get those assistance cards. However, Phares did imply there could be others.
Both Jason Palmer and Cpl. Chad Montgomery worked in criminal investigations for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's department. I say worked because now they're the focus of a criminal investigation. Phares says he asked them to resign after learning both received Red Cross assistance cards following Hurricane Katrina.
"Their applications for benefits did not meet the standards of truthfulness that we have for our office," says Phares.
In his letter of resignation, Palmer gives a hint a regret... Something Phares shares. "There's a feeling of disappointment and a feeling of loss," he says. "And I certainly wish for their sake and the sake of the office that it had not happened, but it did."
Phares also has detectives investigating a memo from a Baton Rouge Police Union member urging officers to get Red Cross assistance even if they had no hurricane damage.
"That is an ongoing investigation that is possibly, and I emphasize the word, possibly criminal."
As for deputies Palmer and Montgomery, Phares says they are the focus of a criminal investigation. However, right now, neither is charged with any crime. Phares says before asking the deputies to resign Wednesday, he suspended them without pay.
When asked if he thought there were others involved, Phares replied that he had an opinion, but he thought it best not to share it until the investigation is over.