The arrest of a local police supervisor authorities say confessed to manufacturing methamphetamine for personal use has sent shockwaves through the Lafourche Parish law enforcement community.
Sheriff Craig Webre reported on July 22 the arrest of 37-year-old Sgt. Ashley Pollard of the Golden Meadow Police Department and two civilians following a three-month long investigation.
The officer’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Anna King, who resided with him in Cut Off, and his brother, Courtney Pollard, 33, of Golden Meadow, also face charges.
Ashley Pollard, an Iraq war veteran, had earned the respect of fellow officers over 16 years of service in three police agencies.
“Not Ashley, it couldn’t possibly be Ashley,” said one officer last week immediately after being informed of the arrest. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to communicate with the media concerning the case.
Pollard resigned from Golden Meadow immediately after confessing his involvement to detectives.
“Prior to his admission of meth use on Monday, neither the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office nor his employer had any indications he was actually using meth and it is our understanding he performed his job duties without issue,” said Webre’s spokesman, Deputy Brennan Matherne.
The Lafourche Parish Drug Task Force began actively investigating the case in April 2014. Through the investigation, agents learned the Pollards allegedly produced methamphetamine for personal use, and King purchased pseudoephedrine and other products for methamphetamine production. Agents obtained arrest warrants for all three individuals, as well as a search warrant for the residence in which Ashley Pollard and King reside.
Matherne said Pollard told investigators that he began using the drug to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder related during his deployments as both a soldier and a marine.
Evidence of meth manufacturing was discovered during a search of Pollard’s home.
All three were booked with one count each of creation/operation of a clandestine laboratory for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance. All three were released on bond. District Judge F. Hugh Larose set Ashley Pollard’s bond at $10,000, King’s at $5,000 and Courtney Pollard’s at $25,000. Courtney Pollard’s criminal history includes 14 prior arrests for charges that included battery, drug possession and contempt of court.
Neither King nor Ashley Pollard had criminal histories. A review of prior Lafourche Parish cases by the Tri-Parish Times reveals that the bonds set are consistent with similar cases where private use of meth is alleged, rather than dealing or distribution.
“I am sorely disappointed in the actions of this former officer,” Police Chief Reggie Pitre said. “The Golden Meadow Police Department has no tolerance for criminal behavior, and we want to reassure the public that this officer’s actions are not a reflection on our department as a whole. My sincere hope is that this ultimately results in him getting the treatment and help he needs.”
In an interview last week, Pitre called the case “a bitter pill.”
Golden Meadow Mayor Joey Bouziga is personally acquainted with Pollard, and referred to him as “an outstanding young man.”
Pollard had served with Golden Meadow for six years, after his discharge from the military.
He began his law enforcement career with the Lafourche Sheriff’s Office, serving from November 1998 to June 2003, and worked briefly after that for the Port Fourchon Harbor Police.
While a deputy, Pollard was a member of the department’s honor guard and of the agency’s Crisis Management Team, which functions like a SWAT unit.
Pitre and Bouziga both said they were not aware a criminal investigation by the Sheriff’s Office involved one of their officers.
They were assured by Webre’s staff that his drug use was not made known until his own admission, and are confident nobody knowingly placed the public in any danger.
Neighbors who learned of the arrest expressed surprise.
“There were never any problems,” said Ralph Curole, who saw Pollard coming and going in his police car on a daily basis. Curole and other neighbors said deputies told them there were no indications that the meth manufacturing operation had put them in any danger.
“They said it was a small amount,” Curole said.
Officials who have spoken with Pollard said they found his claim of self-medication plausible, although former meth users interviewed for this story said they failed to see how the drug, which can induce feelings of paranoia and other unpleasant effects, would be useful for that purpose.
But mental health professionals say that in their experience PTSD patients are at increased risk for use of the drug, which overcomes the absence of normal emotion that those people can suffer.
Pitre said the case has enhanced his desire that agencies dealing with PTSD may need to do more to assist.