St. Tammany man says DA's Office breaking plea deal promise

A man says the northshore DA is going back on a deal to have his record expunged. The DA says it's because this wasn't his first offense.

ST. TAMMANY -  David Troia's 2011 arrest for possession of heroin was a wake-up call.

"I did a complete 180 at that point," he said, "I made a commitment that I was not going to go back to that lifestyle."

Troia completed a private rehab program before taking a plea deal in his case.  It came with a three-year probation sentence, which he was released from in the first year for excelling at all of the requirements.

Since then, Troia has worked as a musician and freelance audio engineer, traveling the world as part of tours and studio projects.  He's also spent time speaking to kids and adults about overcoming addiction and past mistakes.

Last year, a full-time, upper-level job offer found him.  The only hitch to starting the job was his felony drug conviction. So he applied for an expungement, and in February, a judge ruled to wipe Troia's criminal record of the heroin case.  The St. Tammany District Attorney's Office is appealing the decision, saying the law doesn't allow it in Troia's case.

"If you have a pattern of felony convictions, you can't have more than that one expunged from your record," said 22nd JDC District Attorney Warren Montgomery.

Montgomery is referencing a felony drug conviction from Troia's college days that was expunged in 2007. Troia says since the deal was offered, despite his record then, it should be followed through now.

"I would, and I think anyone else would, assume that if the state is presenting you with something and they ask you to uphold your side, that they will in turn hold up their side. In this situation, their side was to expunge the record," he said.

Troia also says the move is contradictory to efforts, underway now, to pass a sales tax renewal for the parish's criminal justice system.  Montgomery has been in the forefront of highlighting the renewal's benefits to the parish's second-chance programs.

"We do offer second chances," said Montgomery, "We have the District Attorney diversion program, we have Operation Angel, we have specialty courts. The law does not provide for third and fourth chances."

Troia says this hurdle won't stop him from continuing to move forward on a positive path, and Montgomery says because he acknowledges and applauds Troia's accomplishments, he's willing to offer other ways to help Troia continue on that path.

It's up to the Appeals Court to decide where that path leads next.

While Troia awaits a response from the state's 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, he's considering one of Montgomery's suggestions - making a pardon request to the governor.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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