St. Charles Herald-Guide

FBI launches investigation into St. Charles Parish DWI records

Kyle Barnett - January 24, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has subpoenaed around 1,200 records from the St. Charles Parish Clerk of Courtís Office involving driving while intoxicated cases during former District Attorney Harry Morelís final term in office.

The subpoena also asked for a grand jury to be convened in United States Federal Court on Thursday, Jan. 17.

The records demanded by the FBI included those for "all individuals who were arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) for which court files exist, whether or not the case was prosecuted, not prosecuted, dismissed, refused, or referred to pre-trial intervention."

FBI special agent Michael Zummer said he was unable to comment on any pending investigation.

"Unfortunately I canít comment about any kind of grand jury investigation," Zummer said.

The subpoenaed documents span from Jan. 1, 2009 until May 31, 2012. Current St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson took office on June 1, 2012.

Chaisson said he is aware of the subpoena and that he is assisting in obtaining documents related to the inquiry.

"Since their inquiry is ongoing, I have been asked by them not to make any comment other than to say that this matter does not involve me or current district attorneyís office staff in any way," Chaisson said. "I value the close working relationship my office has developed with the FBI and I will continue to assist in any way possible."

St. Charles Parish Clerk of Court Lance Marino confirmed that the requested documents were picked up from his office by a federal authority on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 17.

In response to a Herald-Guide inquiry, Marino said his office fulfilled all requirements set forth by the subpoena.

"We received a subpoena requesting records of all the DWI cases in St. Charles and we compiled them for the specifications of their request and a special agent has picked them up," he said.

According to Clerk of Court staff members, the FBI request for records was the first in recent memory.

"It is my understanding that this type of request is not a common occurrence at all," Marino said.

FBI launches investigation into St. Charles Parish DWI records