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Baton Rouge Police Badge, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

A former Baton Rouge Police officer was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of dumping into a trash heap three guns that were evidence in years-old criminal cases, officials said.

The ex-cop, Benjamin Zeringue, faces three counts each of malfeasance in office, injuring public records and theft. A group of children found the three pistols in a box in the trash pile outside Zeringue's Central home in April, Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said, commencing a joint probe by Central and Baton Rouge Police.

Along with the guns, Corcoran said, the box contained BRPD documents. The three handguns were all loaded and two of them had extra-long 30-round magazines, he said.

“We’re lucky this did not end in tragedy, and we’re thankful that those kids who found the guns did not shoot themselves or others,” Corcoran said.

After Zeringue left BRPD in 2020, he allegedly had the guns in his possession for about two years before they were discovered in the trash pile outside his house. As a member of the department’s uniform patrol division, Zeringue had faced internal affairs probes into multiple other instances of alleged evidence tampering, Baton Rouge Police Deputy Chief Myron Daniels said.

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“There was some accountability. This was not the first issue involving evidence being dropped,” Daniels said. He declined to share further details about Zeringue’s discipline history, but said Zeringue’s resignation came after he learned he would face further discipline.

The guns that led to his arrest Monday were originally impounded during traffic stops, Daniels said. Zeringue is now accused of logging those weapons into evidence without actually putting them there.

Zeringue’s law enforcement career has spanned agencies besides BRPD. Daniels told reporters that Zeringue has also worked for two Louisiana sheriff's offices, but declined to say which ones.

After leaving BRPD, Zeringue worked at the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office from July of 2020 until November of 2021, Sheriff Brian Spillman confirmed. From there, he went to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, where a spokesperson said he was employed from December, 2021 until April of 2022.

"We just hope, after this, that Zeringue no longer works in law enforcement, here or anywhere," Corcoran said.


Email James Finn at JFinn@theadvocate.com or follow him on Twitter, @RJamesFinn.