FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
336, 230 HONORABLE HARRY FRED RANDOW, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Lewis Higgins, III COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Kenneth
Phillip Terrell, Jr. District Attorney, Ninth Judicial
District Catherine L. Davidson Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana
composed of John D. Saunders, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Jonathan
W. Perry, Judges.
JONATHAN W. PERRY JUDGE.
Seth Thomas ("Defendant") appeals his sentence of
three years in the parish jail subject to work release for
the crime of abuse of office, a violation of La.R.S.
14:134.3. For the following reasons, we affirm
a member of the Alexandria City Police Narcotics Division,
was arrested and charged in a bill of information with
distribution of marijuana and abuse of office. The charges
filed by the State alleged that Defendant received
"sexual contact or intercourse" by using the
authority of his position as a duly commissioned police
officer. Defendant pled guilty to the charge of abuse of
office and the drug charge was dismissed in conjunction with
the plea. On November 26, 2018, the trial court sentenced
Defendant to serve three years in the custody of the
Louisiana Department of Corrections without hard labor. The
sentencing colloquy is quoted below:
Mr. Thomas, . . . the . . . offense of abuse of office for
which you have entered a plea of guilty is viewed by this
Court as both a serious and troubling offense. And let me
explain to you . . . why I say that and I view it . . . in
that regard. At the time of the illegal activities which
formed the basis of . . . the activities of which you . . .
entered the plea of guilty to these amended charges, you
engaged in those activities as a member of the Alexandria
Police Department. It is the view of this Court that your
conduct . . . formed a very serious breach of your oath, a
solemn oath . . . that you took at the time . . . that you
were sworn in as an Alexandria police officer. It is also a
breach of trust, trust that is held by the community that you
serve and, and people that come to this community and would
have any interactions with a police officer, and it is also a
trust that is held by your fellow police officers. The oath
and trust that is represented by the badge and the uniform
that you wore convey to all, your fellow officers, and this
community integrity, respect for the rights of all, and you
made the choice and the decision to trade . . . your oath and
trust to satisfy not only your sexual desires but also I
believe, . . . in furtherance of your view of power and
. . . [T]hese serious illegal acts occurred while you were in
uniform, while you had a weapon on you, while . . . you were
on duty. I think it's apparent to you that this Court . .
. is of the opinion that a police officer holds a high duty
and a responsibility . . . to the people of the community
that he serves and also to his fellow law enforcement . . .
officers. To one that much is given, much is expected. And
so, your breach of conduct as a police officer, in my view,
has to be held to a higher standard.
Mr. Thomas, . . . I have considered . . . the provisions
under Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894.1 as to
aggravating and mitigating circumstances. I considered the .
. . case . . . report . . . prepared by the Louisiana State
Police in furtherance of their criminal investigation . . .
of . . . the activities, the illegal activities . . .
committed by you, and I have . . . received and read each of
the letters . . . that have been written by family and
friends to this Court . . . in your behalf.
Mr. Thomas, one of the most challenging difficult things that
a judge is called to do is to sentence someone. Regardless of
what the nature of the offense, serious or minor, part of the
responsibility of the Court is determining what's fair,
what's just, what serves . . . the community and . . .
does right by that. [Y]our case is no different. I, I want to
tell you that . . . several of the letters . . . I reread, .
. . because this, the . . . Kenneth Seth Thomas that they
spoke about in their letters I couldn't find in the case
. . . report by the State Police. I didn't see someone
that they represented to the Court as being this moral,
upstanding, . . . individual. I couldn't find him in
Under Article 894.1, aggravating circumstances that I found:
one, at all times during the commission of the underlying
criminal offenses forming the amended charge, . . . which you
entered a plea of guilty, . . . you acted . . . as a law
enforcement officer in his official capacity. You breached
your oath as a law enforcement officer by engaging in illegal
and corrupt practices while on duty and in the uniform. Your
engagement in illegal and, and corrupt practices resulting
the plea of guilty diminishes and undermines the reputation,
the integrity and the credibility of law enforcement in this
community. I truly believe that there is a real risk of that
happening . . . as a result of . . . your . . . behavior. Of
your possessing illegal drugs with the intent to distribute -
- your interference with a narcotic investigation in which
you instructed another narcotic officer not to . . . inspect
and inventory the victim's automobile, . . . during a
narcotics . . . interdiction at one of the local motels. Your
destruction of a public document, . . . being . . . the
tearing up of a traffic citation to demonstrate to the victim
that you had power and control. Your coercion and
intimidation of this female victim for the purpose of
obtaining sex on more than one occasion. That you knew or
should have known that the victim that you coerced and
intimidated for sex was particularly vulnerable due to her
illegal activities. The only mitigating factor that I could
identify is the fact that you don't have a prior criminal
filed a Motion to Confirm Oral Appeal and Designation of
Record on December 21, 2018, which was granted by ...