Sheriff Raids House to Find Online Critic

'If you're gonna lie about me ... I'm gonna come after you'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2016 3:39 AM CDT
Updated Aug 5, 2016 5:48 AM CDT
Sheriff Raids House to Find Online Critic
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter speaks at a news conference earlier this year.   (AP Photo/The Houma Daily Courier, Chris Heller)

Jerry Larpenter, sheriff of Louisiana's Terrebonne Parish, appears to have launched a crackdown—on critics of Jerry Larpenter. The Intercept reports that six of Larpenter's deputies raided another police officer's home this week in a bid to find the author of the ExposeDAT blog, which calls itself an "underground watchdog group" devoted to exposing corruption. After a search warrant was executed, investigators seized computers and cellphones from the home of Wayne Anderson, a former parish deputy who now serves in the police force of Houma, the parish seat. He's accused of defaming insurance agent Tony Alford in several blog posts, including one that points out that Alford's office is managed by Larpenter's wife—and that Larpenter gave Alford the sheriff's office insurance contract.

When WWL asked the sheriff whether he should be using the police to expose somebody who questioned his use of public money, he said, "If you're gonna lie about me and make it under a fictitious name, I'm gonna come after you." Jerri Smitko, one of Anderson's attorneys, says he was placed on leave soon after the raid. She says he denies being the blog's author, but the blog is clearly free speech protected under the First Amendment no matter who's behind it. "I don't want to have to worry about getting falsely arrested or having a bogus search warrant executed on me or anyone else, just because we exercised our constitutional rights," Smitko says. "That's not the society we're supposed to be living in." (Read more Louisiana stories.)

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