Second ranking TPSO official charged with stealing government funding

Years of waiting and wondering came to an end last week when Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s former assistant chief of detectives was formally charged with one count of stealing government funds in a New Orleans federal courtroom.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that former Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office detective Dawn C. Foret, 38, has been charged in a one-count bill of information.

At the time of her resignation last week, she held the rank of captain. Foret is due in court July 6 for arraignment and sentencing.

Upon conviction, theft of government funds carries a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, up to three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment. Sources with direct knowledge of the case said it is expected that Foret, once giving her plea, will receive sanctions that will not include prison time.

According to the Bill of Information, from November 2010 through July 2012, Foret willfully and knowingly stole at least $1,000 of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The money was filtered to the TPSO through a grant program for enforcement of laws against underage drinking. Prior interviews of local officials revealed that the investigation was based on allegations that Foret billed the federal program for time that was spent working on non-related, off-duty details, during which she had been doing paperwork for the federal program, and that an

unnamed supervisor had approved the practice.

The period under investigation falls under the administration of former sheriff Vernon Bourgeois.

No allegations have surfaced, however, that Bourgeois was complicit or had knowledge of these allegations, nor those against former narcotics chief Darryl Stewart, who pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

A Louisiana Attorney General’s investigator had conducted interviews and reviewed files related to the cases of both Stewart and Foret, but found no basis for bringing

state charges.

“It is unfortunate and it is a shame,” Larpenter said of Foret’s case. “You spend that long in law enforcement and one thing goes awry, whether it is intentional or not.”

Foret, Larpenter said, will be missed. In addition to performing her duties as an investigator, Foret served as a public information officer.

“She is without a doubt the best there is no one better as far as an investigator,” Larpenter said. “There was no one more committed. She didn’t look at a clock, she never worried about getting off at a certain time.”

Larpenter said he found both cases difficult to make sense of.

“Police officers work a lot of hours and don’t get paid much,” he said. “But they were making good salaries. I guess that little bit of extra money is tempting. It’s hard to keep up with the Joneses.”

Dawn Foret