NEW ORLEANS -- As the FBI looks into perjury allegations against a New Orleans police detective whose testimony was contradicted by security camera footage in a failed 2011 narcotics case, the same officer was a key witness last month in another questionable drug case.
And again, the case crumbled after the testimony of longtime NOPD Officer Raymond Veit was contradicted by hard evidence.
In the earlier case, Veit, a 24-year veteran officer, testified that his multi-agency drug task 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.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office responded by dropping the case and referring a perjury complaint to the FBI, along with Daigle's claim that the officers stole about $3,500 from his apartment.
Veit had been reassigned to desk duty as the NOPD awaits the outcome of the FBI probe. But since June 24, he's been suspended outright after being arrested on an unrelated assault charge in a domestic dispute in Harahan.
But none of that stopped the district attorney's office from using Veit as a key witness last month in a drug case against a 37-year-old Algiers man, Casey Warren.
Warren was arrested by Veit and the West Bank Major Crimes Task Force on Sept. 22, 2011. But after Veit’s testimony was contradicted by evidence at Warren’s two-day trial last month, a jury returned not guilty verdicts on charges of possession of cocaine and public intimidation. The jury deadlocked on a third charge, being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The joint task force is made up of officers from the NOPD, the sheriff's offices in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes, and the Westwego and Gretna police departments. In the Warren case, Veit reported that the task force found 1.5 grams of cocaine packaged for sale and hidden behind the visor of Warren’s truck.
Investigator Dwayne Sheuermann, a former NOPD officer hired by the defense, said he saw holes in the case from the beginning.
According to Veit's police report and trial testimony, the task force arrested Warren at 1:45 p.m. after conducting surveillance at his home all morning, then finding the cocaine when he stopped as he went for a drive. Sheuermann said the time is important because contractors – potential witnesses for Warren – were working on the gutted house until just past noon.
But several documents in the case don't match Veit's account. Even though the detective typed 1:45 p.m. in his official report, he wrote 11:45 a.m. in a hand-written preliminary report known in police parlance as a “face sheet.”
The earlier time frame is supported by a toll tag history report showing Warren's truck being driven across the Crescent City Connection at 12:46 p.m. to be searched more thoroughly at the Troop B office of Louisiana State Police.
"Why do I have a typed police report on the same incident, same item number, where they changed the time from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.?" Scheuermann asked. “These are factual things that we're saying, ‘It doesn't match up.’”
Scheuermann and Warren said the extra two hours gave the officers time to disable security cameras surrounding the house, then make off with the DVR player attached to the cameras, along with a couple of thousand dollars in quarters stored in an empty water jug.
"Afterward, when Mr. Warren got out of jail and made his bond, he went back to the residence knowing that this video would vindicate him and show that the police were not telling the truth,” Scheuermann said. “But the DVR player was missing from his residence."
“This documentation is pretty black and white,” he said. “If the toll tag has you coming through at one time, that's not two sides of the story. The officer's lying.”
Defense attorney Frank DeSalvo said it should come as no surprise that a jury acquitted his client on two counts after Veit was tripped up on the witness stand. DeSalvo didn’t participate in last month’s trial, but is now defending Warren on the gun charge.
“The (district attorney), as a result of that (earlier case), dismissed those charges against the defendant because they believe this officer committed perjury,” DeSalvo said. “And then they call him to testify in another case? It's a little mind-boggling. I don't understand it. I think somebody dropped the ball somewhere.”
WWL-TV legal analyst Jason Williams said the district attorney's decision to use an officer under federal investigation in any capacity raises questions.
"Do we want to put an officer on the stand and have him take an oath when there's some really good evidence that he violated that oath earlier?" Williams asked.
Williams believes the red flags surrounding Veit's new testimony not only compounds the officer's problems, but raises a whole new set of issues for the prosecutors who allowed it. He noted that is against the law to knowingly allow false testimony in official court proceedings.
"If there's a document that says this is a fact, these are the times that we have to work against, and you put on a witness that says otherwise, there's another law (that could be applicable). It's called suborning perjury," Williams said.
The district attorney's office said it has not been given the status of the FBI investigation into the first perjury complaint against Veit.
Even so, the probe would not stop prosecutors from using Veit in other cases, including a planned retrial of Casey Warren on the gun charge, district attorney's office spokesman Christopher Bowman said. That trial is scheduled for Sept. 24.
The FBI said it could not comment about its investigation into Veit's alleged perjury from the Daigle case.
Meanwhile, the NOPD's Public Integrity Division confirmed that it is close to completing its investigation of Veit in connection with his recent assault arrest.