Porsche burned, 2 arrested for arson
Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office recently arrested two men — one from Tangipahoa Parish and the other from Pearl River County, Miss. — for a scheme designed to defraud an automobile insurance company.
Chief Deputy Mike Haley said that the WPSO received a report on Sept. 19, stating that there was vehicle fire off of Westmoreland Road in the western part of the parish.
Haley said that Criminal Patrol Sgt. Randy Reviere located the remains of a burned Porsche automobile on a remote hunting road. The vehicle had been placed on concrete blocks and the wheels had been removed prior to the vehicle being burned. Haley said that Reviere was able to obtain two key pieces of evidence at the scene. In addition to the burned vehicle’s license plate, which was still readable, he also reportedly discovered a pair of pliers that had a last name written on one of the handles. These two pieces of evidence were later used to solve the crime, Haley said.
The case was assigned to Det. Kody Glenn, who began an investigation that led to the arrest of two men and the issuance of a warrant for a third man. Arrested were Gary Joseph LeBlanc, 49, a resident of Gomez Road in Robert, and Wesley Herndon, 28, a resident of Beach Road in Pearl River County, Miss.
A third person is being sought for his involvement in the crime, Haley said. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Neil Kelly, a resident of Curve Road in the Folsom area.
Haley said that the crime apparently began when LeBlanc, the owner of a 2006 Porsche automobile, approached two of his employees and offered to pay them if they would take his car so it would appear to have been stolen, and then burn the vehicle so that he could collect full value from his insurance company. The owner was frustrated because the Porsche had water damage and he was unable to sell it for its assessed worth, Haley said. The two men reportedly agreed, took the Porsche from the owner’s business in Hammond, drove it to rural Washington Parish and burned it.
By following up on the evidence that had been collected, Glenn was able to identify all parties in the insurance fraud scheme and the actions taken by each of them, Haley said. Using interviews and social media, Glenn reportedly discovered that Herndon was advertising the Porsche tires and rims for sale on Facebook.
That discovery led to the identification of LeBlanc as the person who orchestrated the attempted fraud. Glenn contacted the insurance company investigator and LeBlanc’s insurance claim was never paid, Haley said.
Herndon was the first to be arrested. He was placed in the Washington Parish Jail on Thursday, Oct. 26, and released the same day after posting a $5,000 bond. Herndon is charged with simple arson.
LeBlanc was arrested Wednesday and released the same day after posting a $10,000 bond. He is charged with arson with intent to defraud.
Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal commented on the investigation and the arrests.
“First of all, Sgt. Randy Reviere did an excellent job collecting evidence on the scene. That evidence was instrumental in helping to solve this crime,” Seal said. “Next, Detective Kody Glenn also did an excellent job in investigating this crime, identifying the guilty parties, and making the arrests. My hat is off to both of these fine officers.
“It is wrong for any criminals to think they can commit a crime in Washington Parish and get away with it. Our resources may not be as deep as some larger law enforcement agencies, but our officers are professional and thorough in all that they do and always work hard to solve any crime in our parish. It is a blessing for me to be able to work with the fine, dedicated men and women who wear the Washington Parish badge.”