Former captain pleads guilty to charges

A former Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office captain who once served as assistant chief of detectives has entered an expected guilty plea to a theft charge in federal court, resulting in the release of new details concerning her case.

Dawn Foret was charged with improperly overbilling a federally funded law enforcement program designed to curb underage drinking known as the Juvenile Underage Drinking Enforcement Grant for the years 2009 through 2012. Her plea of guilty drew sharp words from Kenneth Polite, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, whose office prosecuted the case.

“Detective Foret was sworn to uphold the law,” Polite said, in a statement issued Aug. 24, the day the plea was given. “Instead, she violated that oath by stealing federal funds intended to reduce underage drinking in our community. Today’s guilty plea ensures that she is held accountable for her criminal actions.”

Foret faces a maximum term of ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, up to three years supervised probation, and a $100 special assessment. U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance set sentencing for December 14.

Foret was given the responsibility of administering the grant, duties that included recruiting officers willing to work overtime, determining plan operations and writing reports from each evening’s work, according to court papers filed in the U.S. Distict Court for the Eastern District of New Orleans. Deputies involved investigated bars and convenience stores to see if they were illegally selling alcohol to minors.

“Starting on November 6, 2010, Foret began including herself in the TPSO police reports/narratives that followed each JUDE operation in a way that suggested that Foret was physically participating in each operation. From that point on, Foret inserted herself into practically every TPSO JUDE grant narrative as being present and she billed for every hour of operation as the other TPSO officers who did the work,” Polite said. “In fact, Foret billed for the full time even if the evening’s operation resulted in no summons being issued and the report was essentially a page or two in length. From November 6, 2010, through the end of the grant on July 18, 2012, TPSO conducted 130 JUDE grant overtime operations and Foret’s name appeared on every single police report except for six occasions. Foret admitted … that she did not in fact physically participate in any of the JUDE grant operations from November 6, 2010 until the grant expired in July of 2012. The total loss to the grant is $14,728.00.”

Court papers indicate that Foret was at first told by a supervisor that she could include herself in certain types of billing even if she was not present. But that decision was reversed later on and, according to the documents, Foret continued including herself.

“The government would show by both documentary evidence and testimony that based on TPSO records and witness testimony, Foret knowingly and fraudulently claimed federal grant overtime for work that she did not physically perform,” the court papers state. “From Nov. 6, 2010 through the end of the grant on July 18, 2012, TPSO conduced 130 JUDE Grant overtime operations and Foret’s name appeared on 124 police reports. Foret still billed the JUDE Grant fund.”

Sheriff Jerry Larpenter did not comment on the plea, other than to note that he was not sheriff when the violations occurred. His predecessor and then-successor Vernon Bourgeois was in office during that period of time.

In the statement his office issued, Polite praised the work of the FBI, which investigated the matter, as well as assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Bill McSherry. •

Dawn Foret