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Baton Rouge Police investigate the scene of a shooting on Bronzebush Avenue near Ascot Drive, Tuesday, July 2, 2019 in Baton Rouge, La.

When investigators with the Baton Rouge Police Department found evidence that a narcotics officer had purchased stolen electronics several weeks ago, they issued him a misdemeanor summons and questioned him about his actions.

The officer, Jeremiah Ardoin, tipped off investigators to even more serious misconduct inside the department — and those allegations resulted in the arrest Friday of another narcotics officer, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigations.

Narcotics detective Jason Acree was booked into jail Friday night, accused of stealing drugs seized as evidence and giving them to his friend. He faces one count each of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and malfeasance in office.

Acree, 34, was released on $35,000 bail not long after his arrest, booking records show.

Officials released few details about the circumstances surrounding the arrest, saying only that BRPD leaders received a complaint from inside the department about "possible criminal wrongdoing and corruption within the BRPD narcotics division."

That complaint came from Ardoin, who offered up information about Acree while facing scrutiny for his own alleged misdeeds, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information to the media. 

Ardoin was issued a misdemeanor summons in December for illegal possession of stolen things. The relatively minor charge, which refers to any items valued below $1,000, allowed him to avoid being booked into jail and instead sign the summons promising to appear later in court.

When officials announced his arrest, they said it stemmed from allegations that Ardoin had purchased stolen electronics. Officials said investigators found no evidence that the case involved property seized during criminal investigations or was otherwise related to his duties as a police officer. Those factors likely allowed him to avoid a malfeasance charge.

A department spokesman said at the time that investigators were still working to determine whether Ardoin actually knew the item was stolen when he arranged to purchase it. Officials said Friday the investigation is ongoing and Ardoin remains on administrative leave pending disciplinary proceedings.

Acree has also been placed on leave, officials confirmed Saturday.

According to his arrest warrant, another officer witnessed Acree stealing marijuana that had been seized as evidence during a recent narcotics investigation. When the other officer confronted Acree, he said he planned to give the drugs to his friend, according to the warrant. 

That other officer is Ardoin, sources told The Advocate.

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Detectives then searched the home of the friend who allegedly received the drugs from Acree, and the friend admitted to police that Acree had brought him marijuana and THC vape pens on several occasions for his personal use, according to the warrant. The friend said he knew Acree was a narcotics officer but was unaware where the drugs were coming from, the warrant says.

Ron Haley, an attorney representing Ardoin, said he hopes the department continues to hold officers accountable as the investigation proceeds.

"We appreciate the fact that Chief Paul took the corruption allegations seriously," he said Saturday morning. "We await the results of the ongoing investigation into the narcotics unit."

Haley also questioned whether prosecutors will start revisiting some cases in which Acree was an arresting officer since his credibility has now been challenged. The Advocate independently verified that Ardoin was the officer cited in the warrant before contacting Haley for comment.

There are 12 officers in the BRPD narcotics division, which is part of the larger Criminal Investigations Bureau, a department spokesman confirmed.

Both Acree and Ardoin have been on the force for 12 years.

Acree made $106,176 in 2020, with more than half that total coming from overtime hours and about $46,000 in base pay, according to public salary data. Ardoin made $95,620, with about $47,000 base pay.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announced Acree's arrest Friday night in an internal email to the department. He said BRPD leaders made "the heartrending but necessary decision" to arrest Acree and acknowledged the news would "bring unwanted attention and scrutiny to our department."

Paul said the actions of Acree and Ardoin are not representative of the vast majority of Baton Rouge police officers.

The department declined to release additional information about its ongoing investigations, including whether more arrests are expected.

Police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr. confirmed that federal investigators with the Department of Justice were contacted about the misconduct allegations involving BRPD narcotics officers, but was unable to say whether the feds have launched an investigation. Federal officials declined to comment.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.