Alan Abadie, who served as executive counsel for former St. Bernard Parish President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez, was charged this week with possession of child pornography, according to District Attorney Perry Nicosia.
The charge, which stems from a 2009 incident that already has been investigated and prosecuted in California, comes just days before Rodriguez will face off in a heated election against Randy Nunez, the first-term clerk of court.
Rodriguez, who lost a bid for a second term as parish president in 2007, said last month that he was coming out of retirement to run for clerk because Nicosia, Nunez and Assistant District Attorney Lance Licciardi — all former law partners — have gained too much influence over the parish courthouse.
He said this week that he finds it odd that the charge against one of his former aides is coming so close to the Oct. 24 election.
“I find the timing funny, that’s all, that it comes up at this particular time,” he said.
Abadie, who lives in Meraux, was on active probation for a felony child endangerment conviction in Los Angeles related to his taking pornographic videos of a 16-year-old California girl while they were on AOL Instant Messenger.
Nicosia said he decided to pursue additional charges related to the incident after his office received a letter in mid-September from the Louisiana Supreme Court stating that Abadie had surrendered his law license for criminal activity involving children.
Nicosia said the letter caused his office to investigate “whether he had violated any laws by failing to register as a sex offender.”
It turned out that Abadie hadn’t registered and was not required to do so.
Then, Nicosia said, he found that “Los Angeles was under the impression that St. Bernard would handle the child pornography possession. But lo and behold, like other things in St. Bernard, it was never pursued.”
Nicosia was elected district attorney in November after longtime DA Jack Rowley chose not to run for re-election and then died in office.
“The child endangerment was the only thing the Los Angeles authorities could get on Abadie,” Nicosia said. “And it became evident that our prior DA didn’t want to go forward on the potential charges out there.”
Abadie, 68, is accused of posing as a German magazine editor in order to take the videos of the Long Beach girl while they were chatting online in 2009.
He offered to pay her $5,000 and told her he had an office in Los Angeles, according to the DA’s Office. When she told him that she was only 16, Abadie told her he could get her a fake ID, a district attorney’s spokesman said.
After a St. Bernard grand jury indicted Abadie on Wednesday, Judge Jeanne Nunez Juneau issued an arrest warrant and set bail at $300,000. Abadie remained in jail Thursday.
Nicosia said he considered the timing of the investigation, coming just before an election, but decided to move forward. The date of the grand jury meeting was the next one available after receiving the Supreme Court letter, he said, and an investigator from his office flew to Long Beach last week to interview the victim and confirm details of the case.
“My question with the current charge was: Do I wait until after the election or do I do it before?” Nicosia said. “I don’t want to think that an election will delay me from doing anything or cause me to do anything.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department initially launched an investigation in 2011 after the girl’s parents learned of the interaction, according to the St. Bernard DA’s Office.
As a result, Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies came to Meraux and, with the assistance of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, obtained a search warrant for Abadie’s home, where they discovered the two videos.
Abadie was a longtime public servant in St. Bernard, serving at one time as jail warden and later as executive counsel for Rodriguez from 2004 to 2007. He left St. Bernard government when newly elected Parish President Craig Taffaro did not keep him on. In 2008, he began working as the warden of the Lafourche Parish jail, where he remained until late 2010.
Los Angeles authorities issued an arrest warrant for Abadie on Dec. 22, 2011, and on Jan. 19, 2012, he was charged with a felony, accusing him of using a minor for sex acts between May 1, 2009, and June 30, 2009, according to court records. He posted a $10,000 bond later that day, the records show.
In September 2013, Abadie pleaded no contest in Los Angles to felony child endangerment. He was sentenced on March 12, 2014, to three years of probation, to be supervised in Louisiana.
Then on Nov. 6, 2014, the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board sent Abadie a letter informing him it “has received information containing allegations of misconduct indicating that you were charged with willful cruelty to a child and sentenced in Los Angeles.”
The next month, Abadie admitted the conviction to the disciplinary board and wrote that he had “effectively retired from the practice of law at the age of 63,” or in about 2010. Also in December, he agreed to permanently resign from the practice of law in lieu of possible discipline from the board.
Nicosia said in a statement that recent prosecutions by his office, including a life sentence for an Arabi man early this year for aggravated rape of a 10-year-old boy, “make it very clear that protecting children is a primary objective” of his office, “which maintains a zero tolerance policy” for those who commit violent and sexual crimes.