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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Carencro Officer Indicted on Extortion, Illegal Use of Government Database, and Lying to Federal Agents in Desperado's Case

LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a federal grand jury has indicted a former Carencro Police Officer for receiving cash payments from Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret.

Timothy “Timmy” Prejean, 42, of Carencro, was indicted on one count of interference with commerce by extortion under color of official right, one count of obtaining information by computer from government or protected computer, and two counts of false statements or representations made to a department or agency of the United States.

The indictment alleges that Prejean, in addition to his other law enforcement duties as a Carencro Police Officer, was designated to manage the issuance of exotic dancer permits for the Carencro Police Department and enforced related ordinances. According to the indictment, from January 1, 2007, until December 5, 2012, Prejean received regular cash payments and extra money for a vacation and personal expenses from Desperado’s owners James and Jennifer Panos.  The indictment further alleges that Prejean ran a criminal history for James Panos on March 16, 2012, using government agency computers in excess of his authorization.  The indictment also alleges that Prejean later lied to FBI and DEA agents on May 20, 2013, about the payments from James and Jennifer Panos, and Prejean also lied to FBI agents on August 16, 2013, about accessing the government database.

Desperado’s operated as an illegal enterprise for many years, and owners James and Jennifer Panos and eight other defendants were charged in a 10-count indictment on May 15, 2013, alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy, and firearms charges for activity that took place inside the club from 2006 until December 5, 2012.  All pleaded guilty and were sentenced last year as result of an investigation of drug trafficking, drug distribution, prostitution, and other illegal activity that took place at Desperado’s located on Northeast Evangeline Thruway. As part of the plea agreement, the owners agreed to forfeit illegal proceeds already seized and to forfeit the Desperado’s property.

Prejean faces up to 20 years in prison for the extortion count, 10 years in prison for the obtaining computer information count, and five years in prison for both false statement counts. He also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The FBI, DEA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Louisiana State Police, and Lafayette Metro Narcotics investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Myers P. Namie and Daniel J. McCoy prosecuted the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated February 12, 2015