Joseph Lopinto, who left the state House of Representatives in 2016 to work as an attorney for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, has been tapped to replace Craig Taffaro as its chief of operations and chief criminal deputy.
Taffaro retired two weeks ago after five decades in law enforcement, and Sheriff Newell Normand announced Lopinto’s promotion Tuesday.
Lopinto started with the JPSO as a patrol deputy and narcotics detective before getting his law degree at Loyola University and entering private practice.
In 2008, he was elected to the District 80 seat in the House of Representatives, where he served as a Republican before stepping down in 2016 and becoming the in-house legal counsel for the Sheriff's Office.
News of Taffaro’s retirement broke late last month as a federal investigation that included subpoenas of records from a business co-owned by Taffaro and Normand appeared to be winding down.
Normand said last year that the target of the investigation was the tax filings of another individual, whom he did not name. But sources close to the investigation, which involves the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI, have said the target is Taffaro.
Normand and Taffaro formed the company in 2008, combining their initials to create the name: CTNN Enterprise LLC. It acts as an intermediary between Harvey Gulf International Marine, a transportation firm that services offshore oil companies, and Pelican Marine Distributors, which supplies food and other items to companies like Harvey Gulf.
Harvey Gulf is run by Shane Guidry, a major Republican political donor who also works as a reserve deputy in the Sheriff’s Office and who has a high-ranking — but low-paying — part-time position in Attorney General Jeff Landry's office.
Pelican Marine Distributors once counted Taffaro’s son-in-law, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, among its owners, though the company has since been sold. Taffaro had managed Nungesser's holdings while Nungesser served as Plaquemines Parish president.