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Gerard and Sheila Dugué, both former NOPD employess

 

 

The Dugué Defense: Part 9

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by Firpo Carr

Online Sentinel International -- The Firpo Files

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Impotent Prosecutors: Forgotten Family

Dugué & Wife Give Over 60 Years to NOPD

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November 4, 2011, Los Angeles, California--As the highest-ranking officer on the scene just after the Danziger Bridge shootings and murders, former Lt. Michael Lohman of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) played a part in fabricating false testimony in the elaborate cover-up.

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Yesterday, another refreshingly fair-minded U.S. District Judge, Ivan Lemelle, sentenced Lohman to four years in prison, justifiably ignoring a recommendation from an impotent federal team of prosecutors--led by Barbara "Bobbi" Bernstein--who continues to suffer a string of defeats from discerning federal judges.  

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The Times-Picayune writes: "In testimony, Lohman said he surmised that the shooting was unjustified shortly after talking to other officers at the scene, in part because there were no weapons near the civilians. Lohman described helping officers concoct false stories to make the shootings appear justified."

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The Picayune continues: "Asked by Lemelle why he waited four years to tell the truth, Lohman struggled to answer. ‘This is not what I was about,' Lohman told the judge. ‘For the life of me, I don't know how I wound up here.'

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"When he arrived on the bridge, Lohman said he saw officers whom he considered ‘close, personal friends' and found himself ‘not wanting them to get in trouble.' Lohman said he did not ‘look at the other side of the coin' and consider the harm that had been done to the victims. ‘I didn't know how to get out of it,' he said."

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Prosecutorial Impotency: Prosecutors had hoped Judge Lemelle would drastically reduce Lohman's sentence. But the judge made it clear in no uncertain terms that he essentially found the prosecution's recommendation repugnant.

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The fair-minded and compassionate Lemelle did, in fact, reduce Lohman's sentence, but thanks in no part to federal prosecutors. The person to persuade the judge to consider a reduction in Lohman's sentencing was the brother of one of the murdered victim's.

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Romell Madison, one of Ronald Madison's brothers," notes the Picayune, "told the judge that while he and his family found Lohman's behavior ‘reprehensible,' they supported the prosecution's request for leniency.

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"Madison said Lohman's decision to testify was a ‘critical turning point' in the government's case. ‘Without him,' he said, ‘there was a good chance the truth would have never been told.'"

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What comes next from the judge is particularly noteworthy, further demonstrating the sheer powerlessness of a prosecutorial team that's growing increasingly anxious.

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"Lemelle said he would have sentenced Lohman to five years were it not for Romell Madison's request," says the Picayune. "‘His statement moved me,' Lemelle said. ‘He could have easily said "I want vengeance," but he said, "I want justice."'

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"Lemelle said he refused to reduce the sentence further because he wanted to send a message that there are consequences for criminal behavior by police officers.

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"Lohman remained calm throughout the proceeding, and kissed members of his family after Lemelle imposed the sentence."

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Remembering Relatives: The Times-Picayune reports: "Before he was sentenced Wednesday, Lohman addressed family members of the two people killed on the bridge, James Brissette and Ronald Madison. He called his conduct ‘despicable' and said embarking on a cover-up was ‘the worst decision of my life' and ‘something I will regret for the rest of my life.'"

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Granted, there is something to be said about Lohman's seemingly sincere apologetic comments, as well as his admission that he failed to "look at the other side of the coin" when considering concocting a cover-up to help fellow police officers who were his friends. And, it would not be at all surprising that Lohman's own family is at the very least embarrassed over his inexcusable, "despicable" actions.

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But, it should also be noted that Lohman overlooked the innocent family members of the guilty officers, as well as the innocent family members of the only innocent officer, now-retired Sgt. Gerard Dugué.

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In a surprising twist that makes for an even sadder scenario, Dugué's closet relative has also served the community while working with the NOPD, and has been devastated by the spurious charges against him.  

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Double Dugués:  What major local New Orleans media outlets--both print and electronic, like The Times-Picayune and FOX 8--conveniently overlook is the fact that Sheila Dugué, the wife of retired Sgt. Gerard Dugué, matches him in years of saintly service with the NOPD.

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When Gerard was a sworn officer, Sheila was a civilian, who for the last decade and a half before her retirement worked closely with several superintendents. One can only try to imagine Sheila's shock and utter dismay in seeing her husband falsely charged.   

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The present writer has come into possession of a very revealing letter she wrote (dated Wednesday, November 2, 2011) to a person that shall remain anonymous for reasons of confidentiality.  

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"My husband and I both have retired from the New Orleans Police Department with over 30 years of service each," says Mrs. Dugué. "I guess that's why it's so shocking to me because I know the type of work my husband did and how honorable he is.  For the last 15 years of my tenure with the department I worked as Personal Assistant for several former superintendents. My husband and I are very well known and well respected throughout the department."

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This is unquestionably true. When Dugué family members happened to encounter former NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley (one of the ones Sheila worked with), upon learning who they were, Riley stated unequivocally that he believed Gerard is completely innocent.

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"Most people thought that my husband was actually on the bridge at the time of the incident," says Sheila. "As many know now, he was nowhere near. In fact, he was on the first break that he was allowed since the storm and had come to Gonzales, LA, where our children and I had evacuated to."

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Sheila sums up with the effect Gerard's indictment has had on them. "We have been in this nightmare for over two years now and, as you can imagine, it has certainly taken a toll on my husband and me both physically and emotionally."

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Sleep well, "Bobbi" Bernstein.

Click here for Sgt. Gerard Dugué's background