PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police says it is not investigating West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes.
The development comes as the FBI considers investigating after a report from the 9News Investigators showed an undocumented immigrant, serving time for a sex crime against a 13-year-old girl, was working unsupervised at Cazes’ home.
“We are aware of the information provided in [WAFB’s] story and will take that into consideration,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Rommal. “There’s just not enough information to know exactly what has occurred, if anything. In fairness to everyone involved, it’s just the preliminary story is enough to garner interest.”
The preliminary story Agent Rommal is referencing consists of Cazes saying he was using a parish van to “haul some furniture." In a conversation with WAFB Lead Investigative Reporter Kiran Chawla, Cazes explained the inmate’s presence at his home by saying he hired him to do work at his home in Port Allen and was personally paying him for the work.
The inmate, Elmer Castillo, 32, was accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl inside her Baton Rouge home, according to the arrest warrant. The victim told police Castillo pulled her underwear down and penetrated her, the warrant says.
When Castillo was confronted about the allegations in 2014, he fled and was not arrested until three years later. An East Baton Rouge Parish jury convicted him of sexual battery in 2018.
Reports about Castillo being unsupervised at Cazes’ home caught the attention of a former West Baton Rouge deputy.
“I believe it 100 percent,” said the deputy. “Oh my god, like I knew this was going to happen. I knew sooner or later this was going to happen.”
WAFB has chosen not identify the deputy.
The deputy told WAFB he left the sheriff’s office after allegations of his own misconduct. When challenged on what separates his opinion on the sheriff from that of a disgruntled employee, and asked why he elected to come forward now, the former deputy said the following:
“We can’t have things like this going on in our communities where we have child predators or whatever coming to work right at somebody’s house that’s supposed to be protecting and serving our community."
The deputy says in his time with the sheriff’s office, he watched inmates leaving the jail in vans or other vehicles. An excerpt from that conversation is below:
KIRAN: How often was this?
FORMER DEPUTY: It was on the regular.
KIRAN: How regular?
FORMER DEPUTY: Ummm, about, you’ll see them leaving out about twice, three times out a week.
KIRAN: Did you talk to any of these inmates?
FORMER DEPUTY: Yes ma’am.
KIRAN: What did they tell you?
FORMER DEPUTY: They tell us that it’s their free time to get out, to get out of the jail and they just, they go do work for the sheriff.
Meanwhile, the 9News Investigators dug into West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office’s financial records.
They show Senator Rick Ward, an attorney by trade who is the son of West Baton Rouge District Attorney Ricky Ward, has been serving as “counsel for West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office” since 2011. The name of his employer, according to those records is, “Sheriff Mike Cazes.”
In 2011, Ward was paid anywhere between $5,000 to $24,999 annually. In 2012, he was paid $24,300. For the next four years, Ward’s payment went up to $32,400. In 2017, he was paid $16,200.
“To remove any appearance of conflict and impropriety, I think any prosecutorial decision should be made by an agency other the West Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the watchdog group, Metropolitan Crime Commission, and a former prosecutor.
Late Wednesday, District Attorney Ricky Ward said by phone, “I’d have to say I probably want to wait to see where the investigation goes. We would probably end up recusing my office. If any one of my sheriffs were under this situation, I would recuse myself because I wouldn’t be comfortable.”
However, before the district attorney’s office gets the case, there has to be an investigation. Goyeneche says the sheriff’s office cannot investigate their own.
“The likely state entity to conduct an investigation would be the Louisiana State Police,” said Goyeneche.
LSP said Wednesday, Mar. 13 they are not investigating at this time. According to the FBI’s special agent in charge, the FBI usually only looks into any possible federal violations. Otherwise, the FBI has to be requested.
“The FBI has its own violations that we investigate. However, at the request of a state or local law enforcement agency, we can assist them in their cases,” said Rommal.
WAFB attempted to call Sheriff Cazes Wednesday, but he did not answer.