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Locals face racketeering charges for purse thefts

By Monique Roth
L’Observateur

LAPLACE — Three local people are behind bars after being arrested in connection with a string of designer purse thefts in LaPlace and surrounding communities.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested the suspects Tuesday in connection to three purse thefts that occurred between Jan. 3 and 12 at Walmart in LaPlace.

Over the course of the investigation and with the aid of the store’s video surveillance, detectives identified three suspects and the vehicle used to leave the store.

“Detectives spoke with the three suspects, who all confessed to detectives their roles in the three incidents,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said.

“The trio sought victims with designer purses who set their purse in the section of a grocery basket for toddlers, and when an inattentive victim moved away from the grocery basket, the perpetrator would grab the purse and exit the store.”

Many of the snatched purses’ contents were found in dumpsters in close proximity to Walmart, Tregre said, adding the suspects also confessed to planning and executing similar crimes in Kenner and Slidell.

Detectives arrested Kellie Landry, 33, of LaPlace and booked her with three counts of theft and prohibited activities (racketeering). She remains in custody in lieu of a $40,000 bond. Landry has been arrested three times in St. John Parish since April 2007.

Shannon Casillas, 28, of LaPlace was arrested and booked with three counts of principal to theft, prohibited activities (racketeering) and two outstanding attachments. She remains in custody in lieu of a $40,300 bond. Casillas has been arrested seven times in St. John Parish since November 2010, with prior arrests including charges of issuing worthless checks and switched license plates.

Detectives also arrested Andrew Sanford, 23, of LaPlace and booked him with three counts of principal to theft and prohibited activities (racketeering). Sanford remains in custody in lieu of a $40,000 bond.