Unreported escape, inmate death at Slidell work-release program raise concerns of incoming sheriff _lowres

Randy Smith, left, and Jack Strain

Just over an hour after the news of former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain's arrest, the current occupant of that office offered a quick rebuke of the alleged "atrocities," including revelations that led to changes within his own staff. 

Strain was arrested by Louisiana State Troopers Tuesday afternoon and booked into St. Tammany Parish Jail on multiple counts, including aggravated rape and incest. 

Current Sheriff Randy Smith said in a statement that he had been "actively involved in seeking justice" over the accusations against his predecessor. He added that "several changes" were made throughout the sheriff's office after an internal investigation into whether any sheriff's associates or colleagues were "complicit" or aware of the allegations. 

Smith didn't specify what those changes were or who they affected, beyond describing them as in the "upper ranks," of the department.  

"There is no room for a good ole’ boys’ network in law enforcement, especially one that may be willing to put friendship over law," Smith said in the statement. "The actions alleged against the former sheriff are disgraceful and shocking. Today’s indictment of the former sheriff should illustrate St. Tammany’s disdain for corruption or criminal actions of all kinds."

The investigation by the office of District Attorney Warren Montgomery that resulted in the rape and incest charges against Strain was born out of a separate federal investigation that looked into a work-release program Strain had privatized and handed over to two of his closest confidants in the Sheriff's Office, Skip Keen and David Hanson.

Keen and Hanson pleaded guilty in February to federal charges related to that federal probe.

Smith ousted Strain from the sheriff job in the 2015 election, capturing 52 percent of the vote. 

Montgomery announced the arrest of Strain on Tuesday afternoon. Strain was officially booked on two counts each of aggravated rape and aggravated incest, a count of indecent behavior with juveniles, and a count of sexual battery. 

Sources have said that at least four victims, of both genders, have been identified by authorities.

At least one alleged victim testified May 22 before a state grand jury in Covington, according to a source with knowledge of the probe.


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See the full statement from Smith below: 

"Since first taking office, I have been actively involved in seeking justice for the atrocities alleged by victims on this parish’s former sheriff.

The information I learned throughout the investigation was deeply disturbing especially because of the severity of the alleged crimes. Not only did we assist in the criminal investigation of the former sheriff, but I was also duty-bound to determine if any of the sheriff’s associates or colleagues were complicit or aware of any of the information that we learned upon investigating.

The revelations led me to make several changes in the upper ranks of the Sheriff’s Office. There is no room for a good ole’ boys’ network in law enforcement, especially one that may be willing to put friendship over law. The actions alleged against the former sheriff are disgraceful and shocking. Today’s indictment of the former sheriff should illustrate St. Tammany’s disdain for corruption or criminal actions of all kinds.

I would like to commend the State Police and District Attorney Warren Montgomery’s office for their thorough investigation. In the coming days, I am sure more facts will come to light to further explain Jack Strain’s behavior and the depth of the corruption within Jack Strain’s administration. I can assure the citizens of this Parish that not only have we rebuilt this agency as a no-nonsense law enforcement division that takes its role in our community seriously, but today’s news only further motivates us to continue reinforcing our mission to protect and serve with the highest integrity."