State police arrest sergeant on drug charges

MONROE (AP) — An 18-year veteran Louisiana State Police sergeant has been arrested on charges of distributing drugs.

Col. Mike Edmonson, the law enforcement agency’s superintendent, said Ronald Thomas, 42, was arrested without incident Monday and booked into the Ouachita Parish Jail. He faces charges of payroll fraud, malfeasance in office, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine and obstruction of justice. His bond is set at $250,000.

Edmonson disclosed arrest details Tuesday after flying to Monroe to personally take possession of Thomas’ badge, credentials and state-issued weapon. Thomas also was suspended pending the outcome of an administrative investigation.

“Thomas has dishonored his oath, his organization and more importantly the community he swore to protect. We will push for the strongest possible punishment,” Edmonson said.

Thomas worked as the evidence custodian for northern Louisiana investigative operations. While investigating another case, troopers developed information suggesting Thomas’ possible involvement in illegal activity, Edmonson said.

“I want to emphasize that it was state police troopers who learned of Thomas’ misconduct, it was troopers who aggressively pursued this high priority investigation, and it was troopers who arrested the sergeant and booked him,” he said. “We have no reluctance whatsoever identifying police misconduct and taking appropriate action, even if it happens to be one of our own officers.”

Troopers seized nearly $50,000 in cash and a stolen weapon during a search of Thomas’ property, authorities said.

A state police spokesman said he didn’t know whether Thomas has an attorney.

Investigators also arrested Leonard Dunn, 38, of Monroe on three counts of distribution of marijuana and one count of distribution of hydrocodone.

Edmonson said Thomas allegedly conspired with Dunn to sell large quantities of cocaine in northeast Louisiana. He also was accused of trying to warn Dunn that he was being investigated and instructed Dunn to destroy evidence and dispose of money.

“Our work is not yet done. This investigation continues to evolve and other arrests are possible. While we have no reason to believe that any other troopers are involved, we will nevertheless go wherever the facts take us,” Edmonson said.

Edmonson said his investigators are confident that “no ongoing criminal cases awaiting trial have been affected by Thomas’ misconduct.” He said the items in question were from fully adjudicated cases and the evidence had been set aside for destruction.

If convicted on all charges, Thomas could be fined $76,000 and face up to 92 years in prison, while Dunn faces up to $65,000 and 40 years in prison.

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