Meter reader’s drug dealing arrest adds to St. John headache

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

LAPLACE — Higher than usual water bills and timely service are ongoing concerns for residents in St. John the Baptist Parish.

No one wanted additional headaches in the utilities department, but parish officials have one following the arrest last week of a longtime employee for drug dealing, sometimes out of his parish vehicle, authorities said.

Bryant Daigre Sr., 49, of LaPlace was arrested Friday following a St. John Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division investigation that was initiated about a week prior, Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

Bryant Daigre Sr.

Bryant Daigre Sr.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the actions of this individual, as this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Robottom said. “It is not representative of the majority of parish employees. The investigation is ongoing, and the employee will be afforded his due process under the Civil Service guidelines.”

At the time of his arrest while on duty as a meter reader, Daigre was found with more than an ounce of crack cocaine, approximately $1,400 in cash and a digital scale concealed in his Public Works Department vehicle, authorities said.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said detectives began investigating Daigre for drug dealing after learning he was utilizing a parish vehicle to distribute narcotics while on duty.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for Daigre’s vehicle, which was executed while conducting surveillance.

“Detectives discovered crack cocaine in Daigre’s pocket and concealed in his hat,” Tregre said in a release.

A search warrant for Daigre’s personal vehicle yielded a 40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, additional crack cocaine and material used to manufacture crack cocaine, authorities said.

Daigre was booked with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession or distribution of drug paraphernalia first offense, illegal carrying of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance and creation or operation of a clandestine laboratory for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance.

He is being held in custody in lieu of a $126,500 bond.

“Friday, I got the call that they made the stop and he was going to be arrested,” Robottom said. “Now, I was surprised at what they found. I don’t know what I expected. That was somewhat disturbing.”

Robottom said the criminal charges are different than what the parish handles as Daigre’s employer. A notification of suspension with termination protocol procedures is expected to begin this week for Daigre, parish officials said.

Daigre was hired in 2006. He used a parish vehicle while on duty but did not bring it home, Robottom said.

“It’s not like (the utilities department) wasn’t aware they were under a microscope, because the media has covered this several times,” Robottom said. “We’ve been at Council meetings addressing it several times, we added people to their staff, adding equipment, seeing residents complaining. Help us out a little bit.”

Daigre’s arrest came as a surprise to some in Parish government, who describe him as a hard worker who routinely got his work done.