A former Louisiana sheriff was recently indicted on 16 federal counts related to a bribery and corruption scheme involving two of his police captains. In a separate case, the ex-sheriff has pleaded not guilty in state court to numerous sex crimes.
According to the Justice Department, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Rodney “Jack” Strain, who served as sheriff from 1996-2016, discussed opening a prisoner work-release program with St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Captains Clifford Keen and David Hanson in Slidell, Louisiana. Although the sheriff’s office prohibited them from owning and operating the business, Sheriff Strain allegedly authorized them to set the business up under the names of their children while funneling the profits back to their fathers, with regular kickbacks to Strain.
On June 4, 2013, Strain entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement on behalf of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office with St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC, a corporation designed to operate the Slidell work release program. In addition to receiving cash bribes, Strain directed St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC to pay approximately $30,000 per year to one of his younger relatives who also worked as an employee at the sheriff’s office.
Hanson and Keen’s children received nearly $1.2 million from St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC and transferred most of that money back to their fathers. Strain and his son also allegedly received kickbacks from Hanson’s daughter and Keen’s son.
Shortly after the 16-count indictment was announced, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith released the following statement: “After I was elected, but prior to taking office as St. Tammany Parish Sheriff on July 1, 2016, I was contacted by the F.B.I. asking for my assistance in their investigation of then Sheriff, Rodney J. ‘Jack’ Strain, Jr., and his relationship with the owners of St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, L.L.C., Allen Tingle, Brandy Hanson and Jarrett Keen. Two of these individuals, Brandy Hanson and Jarrett Keen, are the children of Clifford Keen and David Hanson, long time St. Tammany Sheriff’s Department employees and close associates of former Sheriff Strain, both of whom plead guilty earlier this year to bribing former Sheriff Strain.”
In November 2018, Hanson and Keen were charged for their roles in the scheme. They pleaded guilty on February 27 and are currently awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle.
Sheriff Smith added, “In my opinion, Jack Strain, Clifford Keen and David Hanson are among the worst of criminals because they violated the public’s trust, abused their authority and undermined the public’s confidence in our criminal justice system. So long as I am your Sheriff, I will not allow this type of criminal behavior to ever be repeated. We have ended the good ole’ boy-network that one once prevailed in the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Department.”
On Thursday, Strain was indicted on 16 counts, including conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, soliciting a bribe, and offering a bribe. If convicted, the former sherifffaces a maximum sentence of 275 years in federal prison.
In June, Strain was charged in a separate state trial with multiple sex crimes reportedly taking place before and during his time as sheriff. He has pleaded not guilty to a list of sex crimes, including rape, indecent exposure, incest, and sexual battery.
Strain is scheduled to return to court on September 20.
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