Ex-New Orleans Cop Indicted for Auto Theft
Jan. 20, 2006
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A former New Orleans police officer suspected of stealing a pickup truck from a Cadillac dealership in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury.
Willie Earl Bickham Jr., who resigned a week after the hurricane, was indicted on the charge of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle.
During Hurricane Katrina, more than 200 vehicles - including 88 new Cadillacs and Chevrolets - were taken from the dealership.
Police acknowledged that some of the cars were taken by their officers to replace flooded police cars. Those cars were used to patrol the city until they could remove cruisers stranded by flood water.
Not all the cars were taken by officers, however, and several other civilians have been arrested in the case.
Bickham was arrested in Houston in November. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000.
I reserve judgement until I hear his side.
Here it is
11/10/2005 - A former New Orleans police officer who abandoned his duty during the Katrina crisis and subsequently resigned was arrested this morning by Houston police while driving a stolen truck, official said.
Felony charges against officer Willie Earl Bickham, 39, were expected to include unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and impersonating a police officer, for claiming to still be serving on the New Orleans police force, Houston police Sgt. Nate McDuell said.
Bickham, who has family in Houston, could also face weapons charges, as he had in his possession a pistol issued by the New Orleans police department, McDuell said.
Bickham was northbound at about 80 mph in the 10300 block of the North Freeway around 11 a.m. Saturday when he was pulled over for speeding.
The officer who made the stop noticed the black, 2005 Chevrolet truck had no license plates and that the car dealer's name marked on the truck was that of a New Orleans dealership that had reported several vehicles stolen during the Katrina crisis, McDuell said.
Bickham claimed he was a New Orleans officer and was cooperative and "spoke candidly" when questioned, said Houston police Sgt. Dave Thomas.
Bickham, who did not have registration records for the truck, conceded that he did not have permission to be driving the pickup, said Thomas, who did not release details on how Bickham obtained the truck.
Throughout the stop, Bickham maintained he was still on active duty, and had worked in that capacity as recently as last week, Davis said
New Orleans officials, however, told Houston police that Bickham resigned in early September to avoid being fired for abandoning his duties during the Katrina crisis, police said.
Houston police confiscated the pistol and other property owned by the New Orleans police department, which could pursue other charges, officials said.