August 10, 2015
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (504) 840-1100
Police Officer Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Accepting Cash Payments From Desperado’s Cabaret Owner
LAFAYETTE, La. - Drug Enforcement (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Shepherd and United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a Carencro Police officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for receiving cash payments from James Panos, former owner and manager of Desperado’s Cabaret, while the officer was in charge of regulating exotic dancer permits for the Carencro Police Department, and during a time Desperado’s operated as an illegal enterprise.
Timothy Prejean, 42, of Carencro, La., was sentenced on one count of interference with commerce by extortion under color of official right. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. According to evidence presented at the March 25, 2015 guilty plea, Prejean accepted cash payments from James Panos during the years Prejean processed and delivered exotic dancer licenses for Desperado’s employees. Additionally, Prejean failed to investigate reported illegal activity at Desperado’s from 2007 to December 5, 2012. The illegal activity involved prostitution in the VIP room and drug distribution/use inside the business. During this time, Prejean was assigned as the liaison officer between the Carencro Police Department and Desperado’s for the purpose of enforcing local ordinances pertaining to exotic dancer licensing and related regulations.
Prejean improperly received a total of $10,000 in cash and other benefits from club owners James and Jennifer Panos while in performance of his regulatory duties. Other benefits included no cover charge to enter, free access to the VIP rooms, and free drinks.
James Panos, Jennifer Panos, and eight other defendants were charged in a ten count indictment on May 15, 2013, alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy, and firearms charges. The charges are the result of an investigation of drug trafficking, drug distribution, prostitution and other illegal activity that took place at Desperado’s Cabaret in Carencro located on Northeast Evangeline Thruway.
“Timothy Prejean took cash payment from a corrupt business, and in the process let down the police department and the community that he took an oath to serve,” Finley stated. “The people of Carencro deserve and expect more from their law enforcement officers. My office will continue to investigate all allegations of public corruption.”
James Panos, Jennifer Panos and the remaining defendants were sentenced on August 7, 2014. As part of the plea agreement, the owners agreed to forfeit illegal proceeds already seized, return proceeds illegally earned, and they agreed to forfeit the Desperado’s property to include the building and land.
The DEA, FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Louisiana State Police, and Lafayette Metro Narcotics investigated the case.