The charges stem from a scheme that put state prisoners to work in a local car theft operation. Ficklins friend and convicted felon Barry Edward Dawsey ran the illegal business out of B & D Auto Sales in St. Helena Parish. When Dawsey was apprehended in a stolen pickup truck police discovered the gun and sheriff Ficklins badge inside.
Dawsey pleaded guilty in 2004 and is currently serving a 3-year sentence. James Jackson, Mitchell Tidwell and Kevin Simmons also admitted involvement in the scam and pleaded guilty in federal court.
Ficklin was originally arrested in February 2005 on a 10-count indictment issued by a federal grand jury. He was released after a detention hearing and posting a $25,000 bond. Twelve more counts were added as the investigation continued.
Ficklin is accused of fraud for billing the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DOC) $140,000 when he employed DOC prisoners in Dawseys chopshop between October 2000 and September 2001. The DOC claims it also paid the St. Helena Parish Sheriffs office nearly $250,000 during that same time.
Over half of Ficklins charges are for mail fraud. His attorney, Frank Holthaus calls the charges sad.
I think mail fraud is as abused as was hooliganism, said Holthaus. In the Soviet Union, hooliganism was the way people the government didnt like were charged with a vague crime no one had to define. Its similar to mail fraud in the United States.
Ficklins son-in-law, Cori Leigh Clark, and the son of Ficklins girlfriend, Alton Hoyt McNabb II, are charged with witness tampering, conspiracy and retaliation after attacking Louisiana State Police Sgt. Dennis Stewart on July 30, 2005. Stewart assisted in Ficklins investigation.
Ficklin is the third consecutive St. Helena Parish sheriff to be indicted. If convicted he could face up to 128 years in prison.
Source: The Advocate
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