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LDAF livestock theft investigation results in convictions and jail terms

December 2, 2010

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said a 2009 state Livestock Brand Commission livestock theft investigation led to the arrest and conviction of three men for stealing and bludgeoning a newborn calf to death.
David J. LeBlanc Jr., Dwayne J. Jenkins and Carnie B. Smith pleaded guilty before Judge Martin Coady’s 22nd Judicial Court on Oct. 20 and admitted to stealing a three-day-old calf and subsequently beating the animal to death with a shovel.
Coady sentenced LeBlanc to five years in prison on Nov. 29.
The men said they were upset that the New Orleans Saints lost a Dec. 19, 2009 football game to the Dallas Cowboys.
The men, who had been drinking, stole the calf from Red Bluff Farm, a popular children’s agritourism venue known for its petting zoo, near Folsom
The intoxicated men dragged the animal to an apartment complex on La. Hwy. 1078 and clubbed the animal with a shovel until it died, according to Livestock Brand Commission and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office reports.  
Brand Inspector E.B. Thompson, who investigated the crime along with St. Tammany Sheriff’s deputies, said blood samples were taken from the gravel parking lot of the apartment house and from the calf’s mother.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Crime Lab confirmed that the blood sample taken from the parking lot was bovine blood.
Jenkins, 36, of Mandeville, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay restitution. Smith, 29, of Covington, also received five years probation and ordered to pay restitution.
A fourth man, Christopher R. Murphy, 27, of Franklinton, did not participate in the theft or beating of the calf but admitted to disposing of the animal’s carcass. Murphy pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was sentenced to two years of probation.
St. Tammany Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew prosecuted all four of the men.
“My office investigated this case and shared its finding with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office,” Strain said. “Animal theft and animal cruelty are very serious charges and I’m happy the D.A. was successful in prosecuting this case and getting the convictions.”
St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed agreed the case could not have been made so quickly without the cooperation between the state and parish agencies.
“St. Tammany Parish is grateful we received such cooperation between the Sherriff’s Office and Brand Commission,” Reed said. “It made for a quick arrest and prosecution of this case.”
The Livestock Brand Commission, under the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, is empowered to investigate all agricultural crime including livestock theft, farm machinery and equipment. All Livestock Brand Commission enforcement officers are commissioned by the Louisiana State Police and have full police powers in the performance of their duties.
In 2009, Brand Commission inspectors investigated 267 complaints and recovered or accounted for property valued at more than $1.5 million.
To report livestock or farm equipment theft, call the Livestock Brand Commission at 225-925-3962.