In his previous role as a Tangipahoa Sheriff’s detective, Lafayette Police Chief Toby Aguillard played a central role in the controversial arrest of a district judge’s personal nemesis on cyberstalking charges that were later dropped.
The judge, Elizabeth Wolfe of the 21st judicial district, told Aguillard in November 2009 “in no uncertain terms” that there was probable cause to arrest a man who had been criticizing her in online forums, according to agreed-upon facts in a federal civil rights case that ended in a 2016 settlement.
Aguillard then told the judge’s antagonist, Scott Lemoine, that Lemoine “should take it as an order from the court” to stop talking about Wolfe online, according to Lemoine’s recording of the conversation.
“You’ve involved these judges, you see, and that puts pressure on me,” Aguillard told Lemoine.
Aguillard proceeded to book Lemoine and sought the help of Wolfe’s husband to persuade Wolfe to lean on the duty judge to increase Lemoine’s bond. The duty judge, Robert Morrison, later testified that he quadrupled the bond to $100,000 after someone called to request it, but he said he couldn’t remember who called.
Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux ultimately dropped the charges against Lemoine, who ultimately spent 10 months in custody in the wake of Aguillard’s arrest.
The state in 2016 settled Lemoine’s federal lawsuit for $100,000, which was funded by taxpayers. The Attorney General’s Office also defended Wolfe over five years. The Advocate first reported on the payout, along with details of the case, on Monday as part of a series on secret resolutions to misconduct allegations against judges in Louisiana.
In a ruling that revived the federal lawsuit against Wolfe, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Lemoine had presented “substantial circumstantial evidence that Judge Wolfe used her position as a state court judge to influence the direction and scope of the police investigation to ensure that Lemoine was not only arrested but was hampered in making bail.”
Wolfe admitted no fault as part of the settlement.
Aguillard declined comment through a spokeswoman. Wolfe, who continues to occupy the Division F seat in the 21st judicial district, declined comment through a court official.
Aguillard worked for the Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office from 2007 to November 2016, when Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux named him police chief after a search that lasted nearly a year.
Robideaux and Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, who was in office when Aguillard served there, did not respond to queries on Thursday.
More information will be included as it becomes available