NEW ORLEANS - FBI agents arrested a 19-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department Tuesday night.
Agents apprehended Captain Michael Roussel after they said they recorded him trying to orchestrate a scheme to get kickbacks from a private security company contract.
Police Chief Ronal Serpas is the one who asked the FBI to get involved.
“About 13 days ago, I received a phone call late on a Friday afternoon,” Serpas said.
Serpas said he received information about the deal Roussel was allegedly trying to make and called the FBI.
Agents set up a sting and recorded Roussel trying to make a deal between an unidentified security company and Gladius, Inc., another security firm based in Texas that’s owned by Joseph Branch, 37.
According to the federal complaint, Roussel, Branch and the person from the unnamed security firm who became a confidential witness agreed to inflate the cost that the unnamed firm would pay Gladius for security guards in the event of a future hurricane.
Then, the three would split that inflated rate as a kickback.
“Police officers who do this are really not police officers. You may note, I'm not referring to Mr. Roussel by his title because I think he's violated that trust and he doesn't deserve that,” Serpas said.
Both Branch and Roussel were arrested at a meeting finalizing the contract between the two companies in New Orleans last night.
“It's also quite embarrassing and distracting that one of our senior leaders was arrested and what may very well result in his convictions of crimes,” Serpas said.
The unnamed firm gets reimbursed from FEMA for the guards they employ after hurricanes. It's one of the reasons Roussel is facing federal charges.
“This was a man that was a police officer that was trying to do some other jobs on the side to make extra income. I don't think there was anything illegal with what he was doin' although the government thinks there was something illegal,”attorney Cliff Stoutz said.
Stoutz represents Roussel. Stoutz said anyone who knows Roussel would be surprised by the allegations.
“He's a decorated police officer. He's been around a while. He has no blemishes on his record. There's no reason to not let him go home," Stoutz said. Both Roussel and Branch made their first appearances in court this afternoon. A federal judge denied both men bond, saying they were flight and security risks.
Roussel's attorney said health concerns were really behind prosecutors' request to hold him in jail.
He has a detention hearing Thursday where the judge could set a bond. Branch's is scheduled for Friday.