Zurik: Sources say FBI is investigating possible criminal violations in NOPD detail program
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - According to sources, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into the New Orleans Police Department’s detail program that allows officers to work off-duty jobs.
The program has been the subject of a series of FOX 8 Investigations “Attention to the Details” where one officer was found to be racing cars while on the clock and others were found to be on the clock for the department while also on the clock for detail shifts.
On twenty different days, FOX 8 found proof of New Orleans Police Sergeant Todd Morrell racing cars while he was on the clock. In another instance, our undercover camera caught Morrell at home most of the day while the police department paid him for a 12-hour off-duty security detail patrol in the Fairgrounds neighborhood.
One source tells FOX 8 Morrell is among the NOPD officers under federal investigation. Morrell retired from the department following FOX 8′s reports.
Multiple sources tell FOX 8 the federal investigation into the detail program extends well beyond Morrell to at least more than a dozen officers.
“I think that’s a great thing,” Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman said. “If it’s federal in nature then it’s the FBI that would be the investigating entity, and ultimately they would have to provide information to the U.S. Attorney and they’ll have to decide whether to prosecute or not.”
FOX 8′s investigation found many instances of NOPD officers double-billing, getting paid for duty work and off-duty detail work at the same time. It is unclear if the federal investigation is also focused on that issue.
“The statement has to be made both to the police officers, to the NOPD hierarchy, and to the public at large, that this is not being tolerated by the law enforcement entities, and it’s going to be stopped,” Friedman said.
More than a dozen officers remain under suspension where they cannot do detail work. Other officers that were initially suspended, have had detail privileges reinstated. Among those still suspended from off-duty detail work include Nicholas Morrell, brother of Sgt. Todd Morrell, and Michael Stalbert, the officer FOX 8 found to be double-dipping at least 14 times in about 20 months. Officer Brian Sullivan is also on the detail suspension list. FOX 8 found Sullivan made more than any other officer working the off-duty details.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Justice Department called the detail program the “aorta of corruption.” A decade later, the federal government is investigating the program again, trying to determine if any officers committed a federal crime.
ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS INVESTIGATION
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