Two former New Orleans police detectives were sentenced to 18 months each in federal prison Thursday for stealing thousands of dollars from a Police Department program used to pay undercover informants and for collecting overtime from the city while working paid off-duty details.
Rafael Dobard, 39, and Quincy Jones, 33, also admitted to paying bribes to two colleagues “for the purpose of making the other detectives complicit” in their scheme to swindle funds intended to reward confidential police sources, court documents show.
Both men were ordered to pay restitution to the city and to surrender to federal custody Sept. 2.
“You, if anyone, should understand that the end does not justify the means,” U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown said in rebuffing Dobard’s plea for leniency. “It was your job to enforce the rules.”
Dobard and Jones, who worked as narcotics detectives in Algiers, were arrested by the FBI in November on charges of wire fraud after submitting time sheets that claimed they were performing their NOPD jobs at the same time they were being paid for Housing Authority of New Orleans details at the B.W. Cooper and Guste housing developments.
A grand jury last year handed up a 17-count indictment against the men, outlining their scheme to bilk the city of money meant for undercover operations.
In that scheme, Dobard submitted paperwork with the forged signature of a supervisor, claiming a confidential informant had performed $12,200 worth of work in narcotics cases between June 2012 and August 2013. In most of those cases, however, the detectives actually used another informant they believed could not be registered with the department because of pending criminal charges.
After the NOPD approved the reward payments, Dobard and Jones would go to headquarters to pick up the money. Later, they would give a cut of the proceeds to both the informant whose name appeared on the forged paperwork and the informant who actually did the work, according to court documents.
However, Dobard also pocketed a portion, shared some of the money with Jones and also paid off two other officers — identified in court papers only as Detectives A and B — in an apparent effort to keep them quiet.
Dobard and Jones pleaded guilty in February to two counts: conspiracy to commit theft and bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“Few breaches of the public trust rival law enforcement corruption, so the FBI and the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau will continue to ensure that all such matters receive our utmost attention with extensive investigative resources to match,” said Michael Anderson, the top FBI agent in New Orleans.
Before sentencing, Jones apologized to the city and to his family, calling his conduct “inhonorable.”
Dobard, a former officer of the year in the 4th District, said he was sorry for causing an “unnecessary embarrassment” to the department and the city. But he said the scheme did not begin to depict his true character. “Words cannot express how remorseful I am for this entire ordeal,” he told Brown, reading from a statement.
Brown, however, declined to deviate from the federal guidelines in sentencing the disgraced detectives, despite letters of support she received from the men’s families.
“Nobody’s perfect, and people fall,” the judge said. “It’s what you do when you get up.”
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.