NEW ORLEANS -- Prosecutors have turned the tables on a defendant who was acquitted of cocaine possession in August, after his defense team produced documents that contradicted the timeline of a New Orleans police detective.
Defendant Casey Warren has now been hit with a charge of false swearing, after filing a complaint against NOPD Detective Raymond Veit and other members of the West Bank Major Crimes Task Force.
The basis of the charge is a taped jailhouse phone conversation Warren had with his brother Sean Patrick Warren, who has separately been charged with perjury in the case.
In the call made right after Casey's September 2011 arrest at his Algiers home, the brothers discuss a DVR player that defense attorneys say monitored the front door of the house, and would have exposed the police as liars.
At trial, the defense accused the officers of stealing the DVR to hide evidence of police misconduct. But in the phone call, the brothers discuss how Sean Warren had removed the machine prior to the police raid.
Donovan Livaccari, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the new charges are especially important to Veit, because the veteran officer remains under federal investigation after an unrelated perjury allegation stemming from an unrelated 2011 drug bust.
In that case, Veit, a 24-year police veteran, testified that his task force never went to the French Quarter apartment of drug defendant Stefen Daigle, even though surveillance video contradicted his account. The video shows officers entering Daigle’s apartment and leaving a short time later. After the video surfaced, prosecutors dropped Daigle’s charges.
Livaccari said Veit continues to defend himself against the Daigle perjury allegation, even as he defends himself against the more recent claim by Warren. He hopes the perjury allegations against the Warren brothers will help expose the truth.
"To my knowledge, this is the first time that anybody's ever been charged with making a false complaint against a police officer. That, to me, means that there's probably significant evidence to support the charge," Livaccari said. “Ray feels confident that he will be vindicated in the end. It's tough going. It's been several years. But the truth always wins out."
Defense attorney Frank DeSalvo, however, said that not only are the prosecutors being vindictive, they badly miscalculated by bringing the new charges against the brothers.
DeSalvo said the district attorney's office jumped to conclusions without realizing there were two DVRs in the house, only one of which was removed by Sean Warren.
"It looks to me like they ran off half-cocked because they had their motivations to make a liar out of Casey Warren. I think they're going to fail," DeSalvo said. “Unfortunately, this conversation about the DVR coming out of the house is correct. But there were two DVRs in the house."
DeSalvo said he was surprised to see prosecutors lodge the new charges in light of testimony from Casey Warren’s trial that seems to undermine their case.
In the trial transcript, two different witnesses support the contention that were two DVRs, one of which he continues to maintain was stolen by police.
"Two different defense witnesses, testified weeks ago under cross (examination) that there were two DVRs in the house," DeSalvo said. "They forgot to to dot their i's and cross their t's before they went and made an arrest. They made a big splash out of it. Sometimes when you splash things, it splashes up on you."
The trial already cast doubt on Veit when he testified that the task force arrested Warren at 1:45 p.m., a time he also wrote in his police report.
But in a hand-written preliminary report known as a “face sheet,” Veit wrote 11:45 a.m. The earlier time is supported by a toll tag history showing Warren’s truck being driven across the Crescent City Connection at 12:46 p.m. to be searched at the Troop B office of the State Police. The defense team hammered away at the inconsistent timeline, leading to an acquittal of Warren on the main charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and a related intimidation charge.
The jury could not reach a verdict on a third charge of being a felon in possession of firearm. The DA’s office said it plans to retry Warren on the charge.
Veit remains suspended from the police force because of an unrelated battery charge he faces in Harahan.
A spokesman for the district attorney's office declined comment because the case remains open. No trial date has been set for the Warren brothers.