St. John employee record raises questions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE –An employee of St. John the Baptist Parish’s Public Works Department, a man with an extensive criminal record, was arrested earlier in the week for pawning parish-owned tools for cash.

On March 7 at 4:13 p.m., St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives received information that prompted detectives to initiate an investigation on the unauthorized use of some of St. John Parish Public Works’ tools.

Over the course of the investigation, detectives determined that a Public Works employee used department power tools for transactions to secure cash loans on Dec. 23, 2013, and Jan. 10 at a LaPlace pawnshop.

Detectives obtained a judicial court ordered arrest warrant for Andre Swafford, 44, of Yorktowne Drive in LaPlace.

Swafford was arrested on March 10 and booked with three counts of unauthorized use of a movable. He bonded out of jail on a $7,500 bond.

Swafford has been arrested 13 times in St. John the Baptist Parish since August 1992. His arrests include several drug arrests, theft charges and a second-degree murder arrest.

According to the St. John the Baptist Parish Employee Handbook, “a background check, including a criminal history check, will be conducted on all new hires.”

The handbook does not include any policy on what course of action is taken if a potential employee does have a criminal history.

Both St. John Parish’s Pubic Works and Human Resources Departments were contacted for comments and both deferred discussion on the matter to the parish’s communications department.

Paige Falgoust, communications director for the parish, said the parish had no comment on the matter at this time.