Three FEMA contractors arrested for looting in Plaquemines Parish

Three Texas truck drivers under contract with the federal government to bring in storm relief supplies for Plaquemines Parish have been arrested for allegedly looting toys, dolls, women’s lingerie and other merchandise from a Belle Chasse Family Dollar store, authorities said.

Booked late Wednesday night with one count each of looting were Gerald W. Thomas, 47, of Tyler, Texas; Thomas Sherman, 39, also of Tyler; and Lasharon Lemons, 36, of Dallas, said Major John Marie with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Marie said that since the relief effort began, drivers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been allowed to take drinks, personal grooming supplies and other small items from the Family Dollar store at 7902 Louisiana 23.

But he said the three suspects went much further, loading the cabs of their trucks with toys such as Barbie dolls, kitchen appliances, telephones, answering machines, waste paper baskets and other goods.

“When we arrested them, they had enough stolen stuff to fill five grocery carts full of property,� Marie said.

No bail had been set on the three drivers because there is no judge in Plaquemines to hear their cases, Marie said.

The arrests were the first in the parish for looting, a problem that has been widespread in neighboring New Orleans and Jefferson Parish since Katrina hit on August 29.

Under Louisiana law, a conviction for looting carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.