Friday, September 11, 2009

Deputy Ezequiel Sauceda Arrested for Providing False Information

Special agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested a Cameron County Sheriff’s Department deputy for making false statements in the purchase of firearms, officials said Thursday.

Ezequiel Sauceda, 31, was arrested Thursday afternoon at the sheriff’s department office in Olmito, said ATF spokeswoman Franceska Perot.

"At this point the investigation is still ongoing, so we can’t release too many details," Perot said. "He was charged with three counts of providing false information in federal documents, a practice called lie and buy."

Sauceda had presented himself as the final buyer of three firearms at a local sporting goods store when in fact the firearms were destined for another person, ATF said.

Gus Reyna, chief deputy for the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department, said Sauceda was dismissed from the sheriff’s department on Thursday. However, because of county policy, Reyna said he could not discuss the reasons for Sauceda’s termination.

Deputy Esequiel Sauceda Buying Weapons for Someone Else

A former Cameron County sheriff's deputy was arraigned Friday for allegedly straw-purchasing three pistols at a local sporting goods store.

Esequiel Sauceda, 31, pleaded not guilty to making a false statement in firearms records. He was released on $50,000 bond.

His lawyer, Robert Lerma, said he was still familiarizing himself with the case and did not yet have any comment. He said Sauceda had resigned from the sheriff's department. Some local news reports said Sauceda was terminated on Thursday. Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio did not immediately return a call for clarification.

According to the Sept. 1 federal indictment, Sauceda on Dec. 8, 2007, misrepresented himself as the final buyer of two .22-caliber pistols and one 9 mm pistol. It was unclear from court documents for whom the weapons were purchased, or if they wound up in Mexico.

“It boils down to he bought weapons for someone else,” said Franceska Perot, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

ATF special agents arrested Sauceda on Thursday.

A trial has been set to begin in November. If convicted, Sauceda faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Former Deputy J. C. Townsend Charged with Boat Crash

A former Natchitoches sheriff's deputy was arrested Tuesday after being indicted in connection with a boat crash May 24 on Cane River in which six people were injured, officials said.

J.C. Townsend, 27, of Natchitoches, is charged with three counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injury, a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison on each count.

A Natchitoches grand jury also indicted his wife, Nora Townsend, 27, of Natchitoches, Patricia Hatten, 22, of Natchitoches, and Patricia Rhodes, 32, of Weatherford, Texas, on a charge of criminal mischief. The indictment accuses the three of giving false reports to a law enforcement officer, Louisiana Assistant Attorney General Cliff Strider said.

Earl Thomas Rhodes, 36, of Weatherford, Texas, has been indicted on a charge of obstruction of justice. He is accused of tampering with evidence of a crime with a special intent to distort the results of a criminal investigation. Earl Thomas Rhodes and the three women had not been arrested as of Wednesday.

The attorney general's office is handling the case, Strider said, because Natchitoches District Attorney Van Kyzar recused his office since at least one of his employees will be called as a prosecution witness.

J.C. Townsend, who was a deputy but not on duty at the time of the accident, reportedly was piloting one of the boats involved in the nearly head-on collision about 9 p.m. May 24 on Cane River Lake near the Washington boat launch. J.C. Townsend, with four passengers in his boat, is accused of running over another boat occupied by three people. He and a female passenger received minor injuries. All occupants of the second boat were hurt, two critically, according to state Wildlife and Fisheries officials.

J.C. Townsend was placed on leave May 25 and resigned June 9.

Wildlife and Fisheries agents originally charged him with two counts each of first-degree vehicular negligent injury and vehicle negligent injury, and one count each of first-offense DWI, reckless operation of a watercraft and improper running lights. Blood-alcohol tests performed at the state police crime lab indicated his intoxication level was 0.15 percent, almost double the legal limit of 0.08 percent, Wildlife and Fisheries agents said.

Officer Joseph Seper Accused of Making False Report about Drive-by

A St. Louis police officer is accused of making a false report about a drive-by shooting.

The 29-year-old, Joseph Seper, is charged with one count of making a false declaration and one of a false report, both misdemeanors. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday he is scheduled for trial Dec. 14.

Seper is accused of altering a report to more directly link a suspect to a weapon, writing that another officer saw the man pull a gun out and drop it. Seper's lawyer, Michael Schaller, claims it was another officer who altered the report.

Five state cases involving Seper have been dismissed. He has been suspended without pay since February.