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Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain

An investigation into allegations that former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain sexually abused teenagers is nearing its final stages and will soon be turned over to 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery's office, according to State Police spokesman J.B. Slaton.

Accusations that Strain had sexually abused teenagers came to light during an FBI investigation into another set of allegations: that the five-term sheriff was involved in a kickback scheme at a work-release program that he privatized late in his tenure.

Neither Strain nor his attorney returned calls for comment Thursday.

State Police have led the investigation into the sex allegations, the agency confirmed. It was not immediately clear why the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office was not in charge, although it could have been seen as a potential conflict, given that Strain was sheriff for 20 years.

He left the agency in 2016, after his defeat by Sheriff Randy Smith.

Strain, 56, has not been charged with any crimes. But two members of his inner circle were charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office in late November with conspiring to solicit a bribe and commit wire fraud in connection with the work-release program. 

Sources familiar with the sexual misconduct case say that authorities have identified at least four victims, both boys and girls. The victims told very similar stories, according to one source.

All of them were teenagers when the abuse allegedly occurred, sources said, although it's not clear whether all of them were under 17, the legal age of consent in Louisiana.

In some cases, the sexual contact may have begun before the victim reached that age but continued for several years beyond it, sources said.

At least one victim has described the sex as non-consensual, regardless of how old he was when the alleged contact began.

How much of an overlap exists between the federal kickback probe and the sexual misconduct investigation isn't clear. But at least two of the alleged victims were employed at the work-release program, sources said.

The FBI handled the corruption probe, which culminated in Clifford "Skip" Keen and David Hanson Sr. being charged in a bill of information with conspiring to solicit a bribe and wire fraud.

The fact that they were charged in a bill of information rather than an indictment is usually a sign that a plea agreement is in the works and that the defendants are cooperating with prosecutors.

Both men were captains at the Sheriff's Office at the time when Strain privatized the work-release facility in Slidell, turning it over to their adult children, Brandy Hanson and Jarret Cole Keen, in a no-bid contract that brought in $1.2 million over a little less than three years.

According to federal charging documents, the two shared the money with their fathers, lifelong friends of Strain. Prosecutors allege that Strain, described in the bill of information as Public Official A, received regular cash payments of more than $1,000.



Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.