[StBernard] SDT Truck Theft Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Jun 18 08:49:25 EDT 2009

SDT Truck Theft Suspect Pleads Not Guilty
updated 10:48 p.m. CT, Wed., June 17, 2009

The man accused of stealing a truck belonging to SDT Waste and Debris
Services pleaded not guilty in a St. Bernard Parish court Wednesday.

Phillip Barbarin surrendered to authorities in March after a warrant was
issued for his arrest. Investigators believe he was responsible for the
theft of an SDT vehicle that allegedly dumped waste into a Lower Ninth Ward
storm drain earlier in the month.

The warrant did not cover the actual dumping of the waste, and Wednesday's
court appearance took place in Chalmette because the charges pertain only to
activities at SDT's St. Bernard Parish facility.

Barbarin's next court appearance was set for July 21.

St. Bernard Sheriff's detectives have already met with state and federal
officials about the incident, which could still produce additional charges.

SDT owner Sidney Torres told the New Orleans City Council that he believes
that Barbarin -- a former employee of the compnay -- was also involved in a
similar dumping in City Park last October.

"The last thing that I want to do is have a truck out there pumping human
waste in storm drains or the sewage system," Torres said.

Video of the illegal dumping activity was offered to at least two local
television stations. On one occasion, someone screened the tape for
employees of WDSU, then left with the tape.

During a phone conversation later that same day, an unidentified individual
discussed selling the rights to the tape. WDSU declined.

Torres has repeatedly claimed that his company is being cast in a bad light
by disgruntled current or former employees. He provided company security
video and GPS data that showed someone taking a truck without authorization
Saturday night, then returning it to SDT headquarters.

The vehicle was left outside the gated area with the lights on and the key
still in the ignition.

"It's apparent it was a setup," St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens said in a
statement shortly after the incident.

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