NOPD cop caught up in alleged insurance fraud takes own life; JP deputy resigns

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 7, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 8 at 5:44 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- One of the two New Orleans police officers under investigation by the federal government for insurance fraud took his own life late Tuesday evening, according to authorities in St. Tammany Parish, and a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office deputy also resigned in the wake of the investigation.

Eyewitness News has learned that two New Orleans police officers are under investigation stemming from an alleged report of a stolen car. 

"Late last week we were contacted about an investigation in regards to some allegations against my client," said attorney Eric Hessler, who is representing NOPD Sgt. Kevin Guillot.

According to an NOPD yearbook, Guillot has been serving on the force since 1992. His lawyer confirms that Guillot is under investigation for alleged insurance fraud.

"Its an allegation of an insurance claim but it does not involve any on-duty activities of Sgt. Guillot. He's a very well respected sergeant and a well-liked member of the NOPD. The allegations, while they're disappointing, they don't speak to the character of the sergeant," said Hessler.

A second police officer is also being investigated: Salvadore Battaglia, Jr., who according to an NOPD yearbook has been with the department since 1997.

"I can tell you Officer Battaglia is cooperating with the federal authorities from the beginning and will continue to do so until its concluded," said Battaglia's attorney, Bruce Whittaker, during a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.

However, Battaglia, 41, was found dead inside his home in Madisonville late Tuesday evening.  Wednesday evening the St. Tammany Parish coroner confirmed Battaglia's death was a suicide, and that he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Sources say both officers are being investigated for an alleged insurance scam that originated in Jefferson Parish, where the officers attempted to claim that Guillot's car had been stolen which wasn't the case. Sources say the officers attempted to cover up the scam.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said one of his deputies resigned from the force after admitting to filing the false report of a stolen vehicle.

According to the Normand, Deputy Danny Spears admitted to filing the false report for New Orleans police officer Kevin Guillot. Guillot claimed his truck was stolen from a Jefferson boat launch.

Spears and the JPSO have been cooperating with the FBI on the investigation.

Normand said he had "planned to terminate" Spears, but before the hearing on the issue Feb. 1, Spears resigned from the force.

Now the FBI and NOPD are investigating and more people may be involved.

"There are others who are alleged to be involved to what extent I'm not prepared to talk about," added Hessler.

Remi Braden, spokeswoman for the NOPD, said because an investigation is underway the police department could not comment on this story.

 

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