‘Most-wanted criminal’ charged with more counts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002


LAPLACE – A man described by St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Wayne L. Jones as “the most-wanted criminal in St. John Parish” and described on the street as “the bin-Laden of Reserve” was captured Oct. 2, closing the book on an 18-month crime spree.

Alton Placide Jr., 32, is being connected with 52 business burglarie from LaPlace and Reserve to Edgard. More arrests are anticipated, Capt. Michael Tregre said, as the investigation continues.

After more than a year of frustrated chases, including one nighttime search in Reserve with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and two other foot chases, Placide was run to ground Oct. 2. On that date, he was charged with aggravated battery, remaining in places after being forbidden, possession of stolen items valued at less than $300, distribution of marijuana, issuing worthless checks of less than $100, resisting an officer by flight and distribution of cocaine.

Jones said a “conspiracy of silence” protected Placide all those months, aided by some people in hiding for fear of retribution. “The word was out, if you turned him in, you’d be killed,” Jones said.

“I was very frustrated at not being able to to get our hands on him,” Jones added, as he heard a litany of complaints from area business owners.

Four months ago, Jones assembled a task force to track down Placide, which efforts finally produced the arrest. Placide used a police radio scanner to keep track of his trackers, Jones said.

“He’s a slick character, good at his trade,” Jones said.

Placide was charged in connection with 52 business burglaries and attempted burglaries, dating from the April 2001 burglary at Towahpahsah Lounge in Reserve, and including hits at all three branches of Hibernia Bank in St. John Parish, Edgard, Reserve and LaPlace.

He also struck at Weber’s IGA, Don’s Country Store, Auto Zone, Superfoods, Finish Line, Taft Credit Union, Connie’s, C&T Grocery, River Parishes Credit Union, L & Son’s, Jr.’s Food Mart, Bully’s Halfway House, B.J.’s Pawn Shop, Riverbend Lanes, Dream’s, Starz, LaPlace Mini Storage, LaPlace Phone Company, Time-Warner Cable, Stell’s Furniture, Nick’s Firing Range, Spur Gasoline, A3M, Reserve Telephone Company and at the driver’s license bureau.

Placide has also been connected with burglaries at Donnelly’s Jewelers, Tommy B’s, Fred’s, Ming Hui Mart, Phillip Services, R.J.’s Lounge, Ram Car Wash, B&B Food Store, Republic Finance, Trosclair’s, Bouchereau Oil, Local Finance and 67 Gun Shop.

“He won’t be getting out of jail for a long time,” Jones predicted. “I hope the business community can rest a little easier.”

Bond was set at $150,000.