A West Baton Rouge sheriff’s major was arrested Monday, April 7, on drug charges and malfeasance in office after deputies found, in his possession, several types of illegal narcotics.
Major Mervin Jerome Fontenot, who was a WBRSO Narcotics Commander, and Director of the River West Narcotics Taskforce from 1997-2013, was charged and booked for possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone, Valium, codeine and crack cocaine, as well as malfeasance in office.
Fontenot was suspended for unrelated reasons on Friday, April 4, and resigned before his Monday night arrest.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the drugs in Fontenot’s possession were, by his own admission, “evidence from a combination of cases/buys that took place during his assignment to Narcotics.”
Fontenot’s downward spiral began around May 2013 when he reportedly gave a paid confidential informant, whom he had a sexual relationship with, property that was seized during a drug bust. According to the affidavit, Fontenot was seen releasing several items seized during the bust, referred to as “the Larson family case,” to his girlfriend/paid informant, which included a 50-inch plasma television, a Playstation and an HP all-in-one computer.
The affidavit states that “when questioned by agents, Fontenot responded that his girlfriend/paid informant saw the items in the narcotics office one day while she was visiting and stated that she believed the items belonged to her, so he had her sign an evidence form and he released the items to her.”
Agents stated that, after a request that she return the items, the informant brought back the computer and Playstation. Documents state that Fontenot claimed that the television was not returned because it “was broken and had plasma dripping out of it.”
Fontenot was shortly thereafter removed from his post as Narcotics Commander/Agent and immediately reassigned administrative duties in the Information Technology Division.
On March 13, 2014, during a pre-trial conference meeting with narcotics agents concerning an approaching mation date for “the Larson family case,” agents were told that Fontenot’s credibility, pertaining to the case, was possibly in question, due to the property that had been seized several months earlier.
On April 3, investigators met with the rightful owner of the seized property, who had properly filed a claim for the seized property with the District Attorney’s office following the search warrant and seizure of the property.
According to the affidavit, the woman provided deputies with receipts of purchase of the 50-inch plasma television and agreed to provide any other necessary receipts. Deputies “explained the situation concerning the 50 inch TV,” and that they were “opening an investigation into the situation.”
On April 4, Fontenot was placed on immediate suspension and removed from performing any law enforcement duties.
The affidavit detailed Fontenot admitted to inappropriate sexual relationships between he and a paid informant. He also admitted to removing the informant from her jail cell to his office at least five times in November 2013 while she was incarcerated in the WBR Detention Center.
The affidavit records that upon interviewing the informant in question, she told deputies that she accompanied Fontenot to a Louisiana Narcotics Officers Association conference in New Orleans last year, “at which time Fontenot produced two Roxicodone pills along with a syringe and asked her to ‘shoot him up.’”
The informant went on to say that she was no longer in a relationship with Fontenot, as he is now engaged to her mother.
Several days after Fontenot was suspended and told not to return to any property owned by the WBRSO until further notice, Fontenot requested access to the Information Technology room to gather some of his items.
According to the affidavit, agents searched the Information Technology room, which Fontenot had used as an office. Agents discovered a black briefcase with two stacks of informant pay slips and four evidence envelopes, containing 45 Oxycodone pills, 28 Valium pills, 15 Codeine pills and a gram of crack cocaine.
“All items were placed back into the briefcase and the briefcase was placed back on the shelf,” explains the affidavit. “Approximately three hours later, per his request, Fontenot was allowed to go and retrieve items from the Information Technology office.”
Fontenot retrieved several items from the room/office, including the briefcase, and proceeded to his Addis home.
“Once Fontenot arrived, agents approached him, read him his rights per Miranda and questioned him about the briefcase,” states the affidavit. “Fontenot responded he messed up and voluntarily gave agents permission to enter his car, which they did.”
The affidavit goes on to state the Fontenot admitted that the illegal narcotics in the briefcase was evidence from a compbination of cases/buys that took place during his assignment to the Narcotics division, which ended about eight months ago.
He was booked into West Baton Rouge Parish Prison, but transferred to the Iberville Parish Jail for safety reasons, where he was held in lieu of $100,000 bail.