A former State Police trooper pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony counts of malfeasance in office, admitting he falsified times on traffic tickets he wrote during overtime shifts.
Jimmy Allen Rogers was sentenced to three years probation and paid more than $2,500 in restitution in the 14th Judicial District Court in Lake Charles.
Rogers, 35, was charged following a statewide investigation of the Local Area Compensated Enforcement, a controversial traffic-ticket program intended to raise money for district attorneys, public defenders and other law enforcement agencies. Three other troopers were booked on payroll-fraud counts in the probe, accused of claiming hours they did not work.
John DeRosier, the Lake Charles district attorney, said the restitution that Rogers paid stemmed from the "theoretically bogus" hours he claimed on his time sheets for shifts that he may or may not have cut short. Investigators believe Rogers falsified times on at least 74 tickets, DeRosier said, but they had "no evidence of any kind that he did not work a full shift."
Unlike many law enforcement agencies, the Louisiana State Police do not track the movements of troopers via GPS and instead rely on them to radio in their whereabouts.
In Rogers' case, the authorities could only determine that the times on his tickets were inaccurate because they differed — often by several hours — with the corresponding dash cam video from his traffic stops.
"We can't demonstrate that he was not on the job (after writing the tickets)," DeRosier said in a telephone interview.
While Rogers avoided jail time as a first-time offender, his conviction on two felonies "punishes him in a way that it punishes nobody else," DeRosier added. The former trooper admitted to "injuring public records" as a public official. He had worked for State Police more than seven years before resigning.
"He cannot go back into law enforcement," the district attorney said. "That will not happen."
The guilty plea brought a swift resolution to a case that did not initially result in criminal charges under the administration of Mike Edmonson, the former longtime State Police superintendent. Rogers had been allowed to resign in 2015 after an internal investigation found he repeatedly falsified LACE citations. The inquiry also found that, when he falsified tickets, he failed to radio in those traffic stops to the State Police Troop D dispatch.
"The falsified times on the citations were between 23 minutes and three hours and 49 minutes past the actual time of the traffic stop," the internal inquiry found. "This gave the appearance that the citations were written throughout the course of the detail, instead of compressed in the first few hours of the detail."
Internal investigators decided to expand the investigation into Rogers, but the administrative inquiry was terminated following his resignation.
Rogers was not arrested until earlier this year, after the Metropolitan Crime Commission obtained the internal affairs report and provided it to DeRosier. The district attorney said it was the commission's president, Rafael Goyeneche — not State Police — who initially referred the complaint to him.
"I think this is another affirmation of the failure of leadership under the Edmonson administration," the commission's president, Rafael Goyeneche, said in an interview. "If this case had been handled as a criminal matter (by State Police), it probably would have sent the message to the rest of the agency in 2015 that this type of conduct would not be tolerated."
At least two of the other three troopers booked in April are accused of committing payroll fraud years after the Rogers case came to light within State Police. Those troopers were caught by undercover WVUE-TV cameras spending hours at home that they claimed to be working.