Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office has raised the stakes in its prosecution of a New Orleans Police Department officer accused of offering $100 and fellatio to a man he allegedly met and sized up in the Criminal District Court building.
Two months after dropping a misdemeanor solicitation count against Officer Ananie Mitchell in Municipal Court, Cannizzaro’s office recharged him this week with a felony count of sexual battery, two counts of soliciting for prostitutes and a count of malfeasance in office, court records show.
Just why prosecutors added to the number and severity of the charges against Mitchell was not clear. Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office, declined to comment, citing an office policy against discussing open cases.
Mitchell’s attorney, Tanya Picou Faia, also declined to comment, but she said she continues to represent the five-year veteran officer.
He was accused of propositioning a man through racy text massages and arranging a sexual encounter in his city-owned, take-home car.
“U look like u working with something nice,” Mitchell allegedly texted the man. “I give you a bill too.”
The FBI got involved, along with the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau, records show. They wired up the alleged victim and sent him to a city gas station on South Broad Street, where Mitchell was filling up his vehicle and, according to authorities, had arranged a meeting.
“I got the hundred, get in,” Mitchell allegedly said before the man ran off.
Mitchell had been off-duty, refueling his take-home car when the man approached, Faia said in October, denying that Mitchell even knew the man.
“He was charged because he pulled up to the gas station at the wrong time,” she said then.
Mitchell had been scheduled for trial in Municipal Court on Oct. 29 on the solicitation count when a prosecutor dropped the case, saying police had failed to turn over reports in time.
A spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office said then that prosecutors intended to reinstitute the case against Mitchell once the reports arrived.
Online court records did not say when Mitchell is due in court to respond to the new charges.
The battery count carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The malfeasance charge calls for a maximum five-year term, while solicitation carries a six-month maximum sentence.
An administrative NOPD review of Mitchell is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case. He remains on desk duty.
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