A Baton Rouge Police detective suspended after being accused of fraudulently purchasing prescription painkillers via the Internet will have disciplinary action previously taken against him reversed, police chief Dewayne White said Wednesday.
Cpl. John Conrad Dauthier was suspended 28 days without pay in January after being booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Nov. 10, on one count each of possession of a legend drug without a prescription and obtaining legend drugs by misrepresentation or fraud.
White, who became police chief in May, said he will remove the disciplinary action from Dauthier’s docket and refund him lost pay because he felt the case did not warrant “such a high measure of discipline.”
“After reviewing the case with the department attorney and myself, I felt that the compassionate thing to do was to rescind the proposed disciplinary action based on the weakness of the case, and try to give this officer some of his dignity back,” White said in a telephone interview.
Dauthier, 39, had appealed his suspension to the Baton Rouge Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, with a hearing set for Oct. 28, White said.
However, White said the police department will send a letter to the board saying it will repay Dauthier.
“I can tell you that the young man (Dauthier) was overcome with emotion and was very grateful for the decision that was made,” White said.
Dauthier filed a lawsuit in April against the Baton Rouge Police Department and former interim chief Charles Mondrick for wrongful arrest and defamation, court records show.
Dauthier’s attorney Jill Craft said Wednesday she is uncertain at this point if Dauthier will drop the lawsuit because she has not had enough time to discuss the recent events with her client.
“We’re grateful that the chief did the right thing,” Craft said. “John is a well-respected detective with the department. His arrest was something that never should have happened.”
White declined comment about the lawsuit because it is still pending.
Dauthier, a 10-year veteran of the department, was accused of using prescription drugs he obtained online to illegally receive up to 540 pills of the painkiller Tramadol a month from five separate out-of-state pharmacies, according to an arrest warrant.
Investigators have said Dauthier completed online medical questionnaires to obtain prescriptions from physicians outside Louisiana, then received the drugs through a shipping company.
The physicians and pharmacies are not licensed to dispense drugs in Louisiana, the warrant said.
Dauthier says in his lawsuit that he acquired the prescription from local doctors after being diagnosed with a unidentified “severe and painful medical condition” in June 2009. Dauthier began buying the pills online because it was cheaper to do so, the lawsuit says.
The warrant says Dauthier told police during questioning that he had developed an addiction to the painkiller, but Dauthier’s lawsuit says that claim is false.
Both the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office declined pressing charges against Dauthier because the case lacked merit, White said.
Dauthier returned to work after the suspension and is still employed by the department.