A former employee of the 19th Judicial District Drug Court program is accused of falsifying hundreds of drug tests and alerting program participants ahead of time when they would be tested.
Nina Burage, 54, performed drug tests for the program, which allows nonviolent offenders to receive judicial supervision and substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration, an arrest warrant filed this week says. Participants are required to submit to random drug tests, according to program rules.
A participant of the diversion program told the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office that Burage would accept money — between $100 and $400 per week — in exchange for telling the person when to expect the next drug test. The participant also said Burage would "manipulate the test system so (the participants) would have time to get the drugs out of (their) body," according to the arrest warrant.
Burage is also accused of failing to send or voiding several hundred drug tests between 2014 and 2018.
Investigators wrote in the warrant that Burage agreed to meet with them three weeks ago but had not made herself available. Deputies noted the investigation started with a report from the drug court program coordinator, who approached authorities in January.
Burage faces one count each of malfeasance in office and falsifying public records. She had not yet been arrested as of Tuesday evening.
Burage was put on paid administrative leave at the end of January, when the drug court program director "became aware that certain irregularities may have been occurring, in the procedures involving the drug screening," said Ann McCrory, the court's judicial administrator. Burage was terminated three days later, and the case was turned over to the Sheriff's Office.
She had worked for the drug court in 2013, when she started part time administering the random drug tests. She became a full-time employee in 2018, when her duties were expanded to include administrative assistant duties.
In a phone call Tuesday afternoon, a woman who identified herself as Burage's mother denied the allegations against her daughter. The woman declined to give her name or expound on the case, but said her family plans to hire an attorney to fight the accusations.