C’est What? Veteran trooper who sold drug evidence gets 1 year

Former evidence custodian pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars selling illicit drugs back to drug dealers.

Ronald Thomas

The Advocate reported Monday that former Louisiana State Police Sgt. Ronald Thomas, who exploited a lax system governing evidence custodians and left a black eye on his department, last week reported to the Ouachita Correction Center to begin serving a one-year sentence.

In the view of some of his former colleagues, the sentence amounts to a slap on the wrist for Thomas, 45, who faced up to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to money laundering, malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice last year. All but one year of his sentence was suspended, meaning he will return to prison if he commits another crime. Judge Larry Jefferson of the 4th Judicial District also ordered him to pay a $15,000 fine and perform 240 hours of community service, the paper reported.

Thomas had served as a trooper for 18 years before his badge was confiscated in 2013 after his arrest.

A nearly yearlong investigation exposed lax oversight in the way State Police purged evidence no longer needed in criminal cases. And it revealed that Thomas — for months, if not years — sold packages of cocaine that he was supposed to incinerate, padding his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit drug proceeds.

Authorities can only estimate the value of the narcotics Thomas returned to the streets before his enterprise came to light, putting that figure at up to $1 million over less than two years.

For investigators, who felt betrayed by a longtime brother in blue, the most enduring image of their nearly round-the-clock surveillance may have been when Thomas counted some of his spoils at his desk, wrapping the cash in rubber bands and stuffing the bills into a pink- and purple-striped sock he later hid in his waistband.

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