Ex-cop will remain out on bond, judge says
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2008
By ROBIN SHANNON
LAPLACE – Former St. John Sheriff’s Lt. Allan Wayne Schaeffer will remain out of jail on bail after a judge ruled Wednesday that the 10 percent bond he paid was sufficient enough to be released.
Judge Mary Hotard Becnel denied a motion filed by state Assistant Attorney General Ali Shields that challenged the validity of a surety bond that freed Schaeffer from jail. Shields argued that because Schaeffer did not show adequate proof that the person who signed the bond is worth $335,000, or owns property in the state, the bond should be invalid.
Becnel’s ruling upheld a countermotion filed by Schaeffer’s court-appointed attorney, Richard B. Stricks, that claims St. John Parish is exempt from requiring 100 percent cash for bail. Becnel stated that his bail is adequate because it follows proper procedure of the parish.
“This has been an established practice in the parish for more than a quarter century,” said Stricks after the hearing. “To treat him differently would be unfair.”
Becnel also denied a request by Shields to further increase the bail amount based on the seriousness of the offenses Schaffer faces. Schaeffer was indicted January 14 on charges of aggravated rape, second-degree battery, and attempted sexual battery. He faces life in prison upon conviction.
Shields argued that posting only 10 percent is almost like Schaeffer had been released from jail on his own recognizance. Becnel disagreed, stating that she had no reason to believe it was necessary to raise the bail since the amount had previously been increased.
Schaeffer was present at the hearing, held in LaPlace, but declined comment. He left the courthouse just after the ruling.
Along with ruling on bail, Becnel also extended Schaeffer’s curfew to 5 p.m. on both weekdays and weekends. Stricks argued that the original curfew, which restricted Schaeffer to St. John Parish and only stretched from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, prevented him from attending baseball games involving his son.
Becnel ordered a joint conference between Shields and Stricks to iron out the curfew specifications. The two sides came to an agreement that allowed Schaeffer to be away from home from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The compromise also allows Schaeffer to travel to St. Charles and Jefferson parishes to watch his son play baseball.
Schaeffer’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 17 in Edgard, which will determine if Schaeffer is eligible to be represented by the public defender’s office. Stricks said that since Schaeffer has no income and was forced to cash in his retirement to pay his bond, he should have a court-appointed attorney. The hearing will also determine if a gag order involving local media should be put in place.