- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted a former Carencro police officer on charges of extortion and lying to federal officers in a corruption investigation that centered on the now shuttered Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret.

Federal prosecutors tell The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1zaelca ) Timmy Prejean, 42, has been charged with one count of interference with commerce by extortion, one count of obtaining information from a government computer and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.

Prejean’s duties as a Carencro officer included issuing city licenses for exotic dancers within city limits, and he visited the strip club regularly, according to the indictment charging the former officer.

Prejean allegedly received cash from Desperado’s owners James and Jennifer Panos from Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 5, 2012, the day local, state and federal law enforcement raided the strip club after a lengthy undercover investigation.

U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said Prejean also used a police computer to run a criminal background check for James Panos on March 16, 2012, a violation of federal law. He then lied to FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency investigators about logging into the federal criminal database for Panos, Finley said.

Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout said Prejean is no longer employed by the department.

“Pursuant to department policy, when I learned that these charges were imminent, I met with Prejean and accepted his immediate termination,” Stout said in prepared statement.

If convicted, Prejean faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the extortion charge, 10 years on the computer charge and five years on each of the false statement charges, Finley said.

James and Jennifer Panos were sentenced to federal prison terms after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges last year. Also sentenced was Baton Rouge businessman Dipak Vora, a retired chemical engineer who owned the Desperado’s building. Employees at the club also pleaded guilty in the investigation and received suspended jail terms.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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