If there were a scale that measured corruption in each state, Louisiana would likely top the charts. That is even after considering the questionable election practices we have witnessed in other states. Corruption is the reason most people don’t trust their state and local government officials. This is also the reason attributed to our tax dollars being squandered away, to the benefit of a few over the common good. Corruption is so pervasive in this state that’s found occurring on countless boards, commissions, and local government bodies. Worst of all, corruption occurs in those branches of government charged with the duty of enforcing the laws.
Rollie Cantu Arrested
On Tuesday, November 28, 2023, St. Martin Parish Sheriff, Beckett Breaux, announced the arrest of former Breaux Bridge Police Chief Rollie Cantu. Cantu was elected Chief of Police for the City of Breaux Bridge in 2014, defeating P.J. Hebert. His margin of victory was roughly 600 votes in an election which boasted a 61.2% turnout. Cantu was then reelected in 2018 receiving 90% of the vote over Keith Green, Sr. There was a 60.3% turnout for that election. Cantu did not seek reelection after his second term, which opened the race up to a field of three candidates: Hubert Augustine, Rodney Chitwood, and Albert “Buz’d” LeBlanc. LeBlanc narrowly won in the primary by just fourteen votes.
According to the press release, Cantu was arrested on one count of malfeasance and twelve counts of theft of a firearm. These charges stemmed from a criminal investigation that was initiated on August 9, 2023. Much earlier than that date we alluded to evidence issues and the fact that several dozens of firearms were missing from the Breaux Bridge evidence room in “A Tale of Two Cities: Breaux-ken Bridge vs Why-ville.”
In fact, on August 8, 2023, we published an article “What’s All the Buz About in Breaux Bridge?” In that article, we detailed that on June 22, 2023, we were informed that all evidence records dating back over the past year were part of both an internal and criminal investigation. Then, the day after the article is published, the investigation is turned over to an outside agency. Was this done only to avoid the appearance of impropriety? It certainly appears that Chief Buz’d LeBlanc’s department had already been meddling in the evidence issues for at least several weeks before the Sheriff’s Office took over.
Makes you wonder how many ‘Brady letters’ have been circulated regarding this topic. After all, this constitutes Brady material and could impact the prosecutions of several defendants in not only the City of Breaux Bridge but also within the 16th Judicial District / Parish of St. Martin. That is something that will certainly demand further evaluation.
A standard letter from local District Attorney’s Offices to law enforcement agencies explains the Brady Rule. It reads:
The prosecution must disclose to the defense evidence that is favorable to a defendant Brady v. Maryland , 373 U.S. 83 (1963). This duty to disclose such evidence is applicable even though there has been no request by the accused. United Stated vs. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 107 (1976). The rule encompasses material exculpatory evidence including impeachment evidence. United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 676 (1985). Evidence is material “if there is a reasonable probability that had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different,” i.e. prejudice to the defendant must have occurred as a result. Kyles v. Whitley 514 U.S. 419, 433-4U (1995). Suppression by the prosecution of material exculpatory evidence violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution. Thus, violations can occur whether the State willfully or inadvertently suppressed the evidence. Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 280- 281 (1999). In order to ensure compliance with these rules, the United States Supreme Court has urged the “careful prosecutor” to err on the side of disclosure. Kyles v. Whitely, 514 U.S. 419, 440 (1995).
Our work continues…
We’ve already covered that the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has been accused of misconduct in recent years. We covered how that office or members of that office were involved in meddling in the affairs of a foreign nation, namely the Sovereign Nation of Chitimacha when it charged and prosecuted O’Neil J. Darden, Jr., the duly elected Tribal Council Chairman. You can read more at “16th JDC Dist Atty attempted coup against foreign gov’t?!”
It’s important to note that the prosecutor in that case was accused of failing to turn over exculpatory (Brady) information. We’ve covered allegations of influential political leaders meeting in secret to decide how to handle prosecutions in St. Martin parish. That “Stench Along the Teche” may have traveled south through St. Martinville and New Iberia, but it began upstream. And Breaux Bridge is just as likely a suspect of its origin as any other place.
In closing, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Many other local places demand further and constant evaluation. Youngsville, St. Martinville, and even Grand Coteau are just a few that come to mind. Keeping a watchful eye on local affairs takes quite a bit of time, resources, and knowledge. However, this is our core mission and we intend to carry it through.