An officer with the Louisiana State Police and a Lafayette Parish sheriff’s deputy have been accused of accepting thousands of dollars in a drug and racketeering scheme that led to a man’s unlawful arrest last year, according to authorities.
The alleged scheme, which has led to arrest warrants for two other men, resulted in over $100,000 in cash payments and transfers to various people, including State Trooper Corey Jackson and sheriff’s Deputy Jason Kinch, said Maj. Art LeBreton, chief deputy of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, on Sunday.
While few details in the alleged scheme were available, authorities said it involved three employees of Knight Oil Tools, a major oil and gas company based in Lafayette.
LeBreton said the company’s former CEO, Mark Knight, arranged for the false arrest of his brother and Knight Oil Tools co-owner, Bryan Knight.
Asked why Mark Knight wanted his brother arrested, LeBreton would only say it involved “finances.”
The arrest, which occurred in June, was conducted by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics task force, who found two magnetic containers filled with cocaine and prescription drugs on the bottom of Bryan Knight’s car, LeBreton said.
The two law enforcement officers, Jackson and Kinch, are accused of providing details that helped in Knight’s arrest, though it’s not yet clear what those details are.
The charges against Bryan Knight were ultimately dismissed in court, LeBreton said. But last month, the Sheriff’s Office received a tip that Knight’s arrest was “planned and staged,” he said.
“When a member of this department violates the public trust, it is a tarnish to not only the reputation and traditions of the Louisiana State Police, but also to the hardworking men and women of law enforcement throughout our state,” Col. Mike Edmonson, State Police superintendent, said in a statement.
Jackson, who joined the State Police in 2004, was booked Saturday into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on counts of racketeering. He has been placed on administrative leave, according to a news release.
Kinch, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2005 and was part of the office’s narcotics task force, was booked into jail Sunday on counts of racketeering and also was placed on administrative leave, according to the news release.
Mark Knight is also wanted on racketeering counts, but he has not been arrested, according to the news release.
Another employee of Knight’s, Russell Manual, is also accused of helping coordinate the scheme — and he is wanted on counts of criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine, possession of Lortab, possession of methadone, extortion and intimidating a witness, according to the release.
Mark Knight and Bryan Knight are both sons of the company’s founder, Eddy Knight. Mark Knight has since stepped down as CEO but is still the chairman of the board of directors. The current president and CEO is Earl J. Blackwell.
Richard Burgess contributed reporting.