Corruption In Caddo Parish: The Truth Revealed
The Informer‘s mission statement reads: “It is our mission to inform the public, closely examine controversial topics, ease social tensions, provide accountability to our local leadership, and to be a powerful voice for the underrepresented.” In our magazine, we recently published a series of articles that cast the Caddo Parish Sheriff, Steve Prator, in a negative light. We were initially concerned about his continued ability to govern our community after several incidents came to our attention that we believed were worthy to report. After we began to investigate the claims we had read and heard about, it became very troublesome to continue as we faced increased threats and harassment from law enforcement and ardent supporters of the Caddo Parish Sheriff.
Covering up the crimes
The most recent of these articles addressed how Sheriff Prator covered the tracks of a staff member of the Sheriff’s Department who was caught viewing child pornography while at work. After incriminating chat messages were found on his work computer assigned to him by Caddo Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant was obtained to investigate computers from his residence where they were forensically examined. The Sheriff was allegedly reluctant to provide the file documenting this incident, but another source was able to produce the incident reports upon request.
After review of the file, the District Attorney observed that the last lines of the report indicated that the Sheriff had advised that he did not wish to pursue any charges or prosecute the staff member. Coincidentally, the alleged pedophile, Johnny Loomis, resigned from his position the next day, and the “investigation” to this day remains open, as it has been, since the incident occurred in 2012. This individual is a threat to our community’s children, and he is now walking among us, free from consequence. “Tough on crime” apparently doesn’t apply to friends of Sheriff Prator, even when those friends could be sexual predators. The Informer asks for your help to make this case known so that it can be investigated by the proper federal agencies. Please help us in getting a pedophile off of our streets.
Protecting the “Club”
The fact that Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator let a child predator off the hook and suppressed the investigation is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a man who believes he is above the law and has demonstrated this attitude throughout his 4 term, 15 year reign over Caddo Parish (40 years if you include his four terms as Shreveport Police Chief). It is common knowledge that he lets his friends and those inside the “Caddo Club” off scot-free, when charged with, sometimes very, very serious crimes. Upon review of the “Caddo Club” list that comprised of over 330 individuals, it was noted that the recipients of these commissions are not post-certified, nor do they possess any formal law enforcement training. Some of these members advised that they were in fact solicited by Prator to purchase multiple badges, commissions, and wallet badges, at a cost of $500 per commission.
Sheriff Prator has also been observed lying about the number of inmates at Caddo Correctional Center, as they have been cramming detainees into the facility for years in an overpopulated environment. When a routine check was done on the facility to ensure it was meeting adequate safety and health standards, inmates were placed onto buses and driven around the block several times until the investigators were leaving; however, they screwed up after they brought back at least one bus while the investigators were still at the facility, raising suspicion as to the true quality of care that these inmates and detainees receive while in Sheriff Prator’s custody. Inmates have been crammed three to each cell, when conditions only allow for two inmates to be housed in each cell at this facility. Additionally, pre-trial detainees have historically been prevented from voting on election day in this facility, which is a blatant violation of their rights. Committee member Mr. Williams stated that “he is concerned with the opportunity for those pretrial inmates at CCC and their opportunity to vote, if they so desire.”
Sheriff Prator has a public meltdown
Our magazine gained a large readership base very quickly after our exclusive video of a political debate between the Caddo Sheriff candidates received widespread attention. Steve Prator was asked at the forum by an audience member why “a young man was recently shot approximately 29 times by 3 different law enforcement agencies, and one of your deputies led the charge. Do you think this is appropriate, and if not, what disciplinary actions do you plan on taking to address this issue?” The man who asked the question, our chief editor, knew the individual who was executed in the incident personally. Sheriff Steve Prator’s sealed court records were addressed, which were claimed to reveal that he choked his ex-wife and broke her arm in a domestic violence struggle, ending in their divorce.
We wrote a story prior to the debate, which caused a lot of undue outrage against the man who was murdered because of the way that local media portrayed the event. The Inquisitor even called the man who was killed an “urban terrorist” and echoed the loaded suspicions of news channels like KTBS and The Shreveport Times. The follow-up story that they did on the incident’s aftermath was much more somber. Our response was a clarified story after having contacted the family of Mr. Ibrahim and received exclusive interviews to the events that transpired, and have been in contact with several outside agencies that are willing to investigate the actual causes of this blatant oversight in authority.
No gun was ever found in Mohamed Ibrahim’s possession, nor was there any evidence presented to validate the claims of his “crime spree” before being brutally executed and covered up by agencies involved. Mr. Ibrahim’s body was even stolen during his funeral because the Caddo Sheriff’s Department claimed that the “x-rays were blurry,” but Ibrahim’s father, who is a doctor, knows that an autopsy would never produce an x-ray that was too blurry to identify the cause of death in a shooting or blunt trauma. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has worked closely with the Ibrahim family and our organization to provide justice for the man who was slain by Caddo Sheriff’s deputies and other local law enforcement agencies. National media outlets have been very interested in our story, and have reached out to us for further direction on how to make light of this situation.
Getting the “run around”
In trying to find the documents that would prove true or false the allegations that were made at the forum, we encountered confusing and evasive responses from clerks and Caddo Sheriff’s Office staff. Many staff members later shared their grievances with us privately or often confirmed our suspicions when we mentioned it, and were glad to support our cause. Every time we have interacted with the Sheriff’s Department about public information requests or to receive insight about an issue, we were denied access; additionally, an elevated threat by intimidation was a common response to our questions. Sheriff deputies were commonly seen patrolling the private road that The Informer‘s office is located on. In no instance were they able to supply evidence of a crime taking place or reasonable suspicion that there were any strange behaviors occurring at the property to justify their presence, but they wanted us to know that they were there, and they wanted us to stop asking questions.
In the Caddo Sheriff’s debate at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church on September 29, Sheriff Steve Prator continued his aggressive rhetoric by ridiculing the process of due process in law enforcement, along with flipping off the District Attorney’s office in front of the public. He has shown a blatant disregard for the quality of communication between his department and the citizens of Caddo Parish, and we believe it is a grave mistake to ignore this in the face of so much compelling evidence. Sheriff Prator also stripped Caddo District Attorney investigators of their commissions several months ago as well. It is no secret that Sheriff Steve Prator relentlessly attacked former Caddo District Attorney Charles Scott on a regular basis, and for no justifiable reason. In fact, Charles Scott was in Baton Rouge, working with the legislature to recover the commissions for his investigators, at the time that he passed away.
Intimidating the Press
Sheriff Steve Prator has also been known in the past to target and harass those who oppose him. The most recent case is happening right now, involving our chief editor, Joe Carstensen. To give a little back story, it is important to note that Joe wrote an article for our magazine titled “Questions for Steve Prator,” which said that: “like many other people in my generation, I find it hard to view law enforcement as entirely ‘good.’ This is not because we dislike police — it is because we dislike being treated with cruelty and indignity by police, who in doing so break the law that they are sworn to uphold. You, and others like you, make a mockery of the honor for which law enforcement is supposed to stand. I respect the badge you wear on your chest more than I respect the man behind it.”
Shortly after that story was published, the Sheriff’s department increased its harassment of our staff significantly, especially Joe. They reopened a minor seat belt ticket charge from 2007 (one which initially listed his name incorrectly as “Joseph Cartensen”), they have issued a bench warrant for the unpaid tickets, and they are actively hunting Joseph in order to arrest him. On the Monday following the Primary Election, the Caddo Sheriff’s Department sent 3 unmarked Caddo Sheriff’s Office “warrant division” cars to his house, another 3 to The Informer’s office, and 1 to his father’s shop — all taking place within an hour of each other. This search was announced by Sheriff Steve Prator on television immediately after the election results came in Saturday evening, stating that “first thing Monday morning” he was “going to put some individuals in jail.” Currently, there is an ongoing manhunt for our chief editor over the minor seat belt violation from 2007. Sheriff Steve Prator will attempt anything in his power in order to silence this man, and to “bring him to justice” with his “tough on crime” policy. When individuals have spoken out against the Sheriff, they have been harassed and intimidated, becoming fearful for their lives and often flee the area or go into hiding.
Suspicions of Voter Fraud
Sheriff Steve Prator recently ran and won for his fifth term as Caddo Parish Sheriff, after having served four consecutive terms as Shreveport Police Chief. The lack of term limits and limitations on cross-governmental candidacy encourages elected officials to focus on maintaining their power, influence, and bottom line. We have been battered by exclusionary political elitism for too long, and it is time to reclaim our power and remind them who they really work for.
A report conducted on the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in New Jersey (which are also used in Caddo Parish, Louisiana), disclosed that these voting machines are known to be easy to tamper with. The report claims that, “these machines are vulnerable to a wide variety of attacks on the voting process. It would not be in the slightest difficult for a moderately determined group or individual to mount a vote-stealing attack that would be successful and undetectable.” We studied the information that was provided by the election committee on the night of the Primary Election in Caddo Parish and found numerous strange occurrences in various precincts that were known to vote in entirely different patterns in most every election according to past records. These machines have been known to cause errors on a large scale in past elections as well, and there should be public outcry over the fact that these machines do not allow voter verification.
The report on investigations in New Jersey voting fraud using identical machines notes that “the plaintiffs argued that the use of DRE voting machines is illegal and unconstitutional: illegal, because they violate New Jersey election laws requiring that all votes be counted accurately and that voting machines be thoroughly tested, accurate, and reliable; and unconstitutional, because they violate the New Jersey constitution’s requirement that all votes count.” An expert witnesses concluded that, “there is a reason to believe that New Jersey election officials have destroyed evidence in a pending court case, perhaps to cover up the noncompliance with these measures or to cover up irregularities in this election. There is enough evidence of a cover-up that a Superior Court judge has referred the matter to the State prosecutor’s office.” Reports have been filed by concerned parties which were supposed to receive direct access to test the machines, but they were curiously “already set” 2 weeks prior to the actual election. It is very strange that the election results appeared to be largely inaccurate when compared to voting habits in previous elections, as well as when compared with the vote tallies of the other candidates running for offices in city and statewide elections.
Rotten to the core
Due to Sheriff Prator’s “missing” public records, control of the ‘Caddo Club’, and history of public intimidation, our investigations led us to find allegations of: sexual harassment, abuse of power, drinking and driving, public intimidation, domestic abuse and battery, nepotism, electioneering, tampering with electronic ballot machines, racketeering, money laundering, among other serious white-collar crimes. We started our magazine to inform the public of what we felt was not being addressed by our leaders and local media outlets who should be held responsible for failing to seek the truth in such trying circumstances as we have set out to do. Our introduction states that, “first and foremost, our goal is to get people involved in their community. All problems get worse if you ignore them, and when it comes to social issues, don’t expect leaders to do the right thing if no one is watching.” When we faced resistance from those who were expected to work to protect us, it became clear that few else were watching, since all of this was happening in the public eye and discussed openly.
We have witnessed so many first hand accounts of the fallout affecting families after being arrested or incarcerated in the parish jail and later being released with small non-violent offenses, false charges, or no charges at all. The attorneys, judges and law enforcement agencies have been seen to commit injustice as policy and should be audited by a citizen’s review board or other committee to inquire the source of the problem when it has remained so widespread for such a long time. The City Tele-Coin system, operated by friends of Sheriff Steve Prator, has been gouging inmates and detainees for years, and they make regular contributions to those who will help keep their system in place. A key decision by the Federal Communications Commission to set rates for all telephone calls from jails and prisons across America is the right move for Louisiana, according to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. “This FCC decision will affect Louisiana more than any other state, because we incarcerate more people per capita than any place on Earth. It will mean fair and just treatment for the families accepting calls from 40,000 inmates in state and local jails.”
A growing (bad) reputation for Caddo Parish
Caddo Parish has been observed nationally, and often globally, in a horrible light as a bottom-end statistic of how far injustice can go. CBSNews recently aired on their ’60 Minutes’ program about Glenn Ford and his 30 years in death row after being convicted in Shreveport in 1983. New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, and other media outlets have run lengthy articles about the harshness of “tough on crime” law enforcement in a community, and they don’t understand it. Dale Cox, the interim District Attorney of Caddo Parish, is personally responsible for over one third of the death penalty cases that have been tried in the state of Louisiana’s long history. Not long ago, two Caddo Judges were charged with corruption for accepting bribes for prosecuting juveniles, and just last year, former Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen was indicted on criminal conspiracy charges after a vehicle purchase scheme was conducted. Somehow, many people of Caddo Parish seem largely unaware that these activities have been taking place for years, and at this point they almost never care until they are the ones who have been targeted by local law enforcement agencies. When negative publicity affects the community’s response to injustice in the District Attorney’s office, why isn’t more attention paid to those the law enforcement which conducts illegal or unjust practices in order to prosecute for profit?
Some media attention was driven by billionaire George Soros’ substantial contribution of $256,000 to the Louisiana Safety & Justice Super-PAC located in adjoining Bossier Parish. A second contribution quickly followed, adding $150,000 to the now $406,000 total available to James Stewart’s campaign for Caddo District Attorney. The enormous amount of money available to a single candidate in the race caused a confused public outcry that ranged from excited to fearful, along with a public protest from the other candidates for District Attorney. Political analyst Elliot Stonecipher agrees that “we want to understand not only why it is happening, but how the money will be used to elect the identified recipient of the Soros windfall, D.A. candidate and former 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal Judge James Stewart.” Many believe, without evidence, that this contribution will help James Stewart become elected in November’s General Election, and that he will solve all of the problems of racial injustice and inadequate treatment of suspected criminals and inmates in Caddo Parish after having received a lot of negative national publicity over use of the death penalty. Both James Stewart and Dhu Thompson support the death penalty in certain instances, so it is unlikely that there will be much change after the decision is made and Dale Cox is replaced. These beliefs are illusions, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Soros connection is a bad omen for the future of our community. If the recent election for Caddo Parish Sheriff could be “fixed,” then what will become of the runoff election for District Attorney?
The community gets involved
The Informer received so much positive feedback from informed citizens that already knew about the injustices of the court system and were willing to support our efforts in a way that showed us it was a clear and present danger to the community. One commenter told us: “the young people today are quite right in demanding accountability from law enforcement and government. My generation, and prior generations failed to hold them to higher standards. The result is what you see today. We, the people are responsible for saying what the laws are, and ‘authorities’ are supposed to answer to us! That is what it means to be American! Don’t blame the young ones for standing up where we failed to.” We accepted that challenge, and want nothing more than accountability for our government officials, elected or appointed, because that’s what is to be expected when justice is managed with a sound mind and fair judgment. You can’t solve problems in the community by working to destroy the freedom of families and interrupting the lives of non-violent offenders, and we’ve seen the results of this long enough to know it doesn’t work as it has impacted our community for years.
We have faced harsh scrutiny and criticism from other local media outlets and the supporters of Sheriff Steve Prator, it has been an exercise in personal safety to conduct any and all types of investigation in these matters. There were at least 4 or 5 Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol and undercover vehicles on our road every day. Sometimes, they would drive to the end of the road very slowly, then turn around and drive out. Sometimes, they would sit in neighboring parking lots and watch our building, even taking photographs on occasion. We have also received numerous unwarranted visits from many unmarked vehicles driven by officers from different law enforcement agencies (including the leader of Louisiana State Police Troop G). We began taking pictures of all of these cars so that we could have evidence for an intimidation lawsuit, and to corroborate our story with others who couldn’t believe what we had witnessed. When one of these unmarked cars saw us with cameras, they recklessly flew down the road to get out of view. We also began backing into our parking spots to make it more difficult for them to see our license plates and monitor who came and went.
So, what happens next?
Some of the opinions that we expressed were enough to inspire hatred from local authorities and supporters of law enforcement, particularly when our articles were written about the police. The potential of retaliation for these opinions kept our names from the first few issues. Our concerns proved to be justified. All of our phones started behaving strangely, and almost everyone we spoke to on the phone would call us back and tell us that their phones started doing the same after speaking with us. We also began to be followed almost everywhere we went. We predicted that we would catch heat for calling out corrupt officials and their media mouthpieces, for trying to end the stigma that certain illegal substances have received due to pharmaceutical industry brainwashing, and for trying to inform citizens of their constitutional rights in the face of powers that are trying to take them away. We knew that our constitutional rights would be challenged by the authority figures that were used to having things their way, without opposition. Our predictions proved to be true.
We have, until now, remained mostly anonymous in order to protect ourselves and our families from people who have proven that they will break the law in order to maintain their power. These people have much of the criminal justice system on their side because they all make a living through the legal system. Of course they don’t want to have fewer people locked up, they profit from the system staying exactly how it is. The federal government pays Caddo $55 for each inmate per day, spending only $3.50 per inmate per day for the sheriff’s office to house inmates. Every day that injustices are carried out against the citizens of Caddo Parish is another day we lose in trying to restore our community to a condition that works for them. For many years, citizens have worked tirelessly to improve their city’s well-being, and their efforts are repeatedly ignored or destroyed by harmful practices by law enforcement and administrators who break the law. What would you have done if the sheriff in your area were accused of abusing their position of authority in order to protect criminal interests, while at the same time imposing harsh penalties for minor offenders and covering up misconduct within their own office?
Originally published at theinformer.la on October 26, 2015.