DWI Crackdown: Multiple Offender Thomas Swaggart - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

DWI Crackdown: Multiple Offender Thomas Swaggart

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 48-year-old Thomas Swaggart is no stranger to law enforcement. He's been arrested a total of six times for DWI. 

"There are some people who are not going to learn the easy way and for those people we've got to put them in jail," said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.  

Troubles started for Swaggart back in 1985 when he got his first DWI in Sulphur. Court records show he would plead guilty to careless operation.

Then 7 years later he was convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of Betsy Ennis of Sulphur near Holly Beach. He would serve some time in jail before being let back out on the streets.

Then on the morning of December 10, 1995 Swaggart is stopped again. This time in St. John Parish - going 87 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. Records show his blood alcohol level was 0.2 - which is way beyond the legal limit.

Swaggart told 7 News at the time that he had slipped and was glad he got caught. He also acknowledged he had a problem and was getting help and said he had given up drinking.

It's not clear how long he stayed off the bottle, but on April 4, 2005 - Swaggart was definitely drinking and driving again. According to the report, Swaggart told the officer who stopped him he had just been to a crawfish boil and had been drinking.

April of the following year would also not be a good year for Swaggart - he was stopped twice for DWI - once on April 1st and on April 28th by the same state trooper.

With more than three years of delays those two cases from April 2006 are still pending, but Swaggart's sister, Stacie Swaggart Retzlaff, says he's changed his ways. Even writing a letter to the courts on behalf of her brother:

Retzlaff says, "I don't approve of what my brother did and neither does he. I'm a pleading with you, however, to find other means than jail for him to pay his crime. With our prisons so over crowded, would there be any way possible that our judicial system consider my brother's punishment by way of home incarceration and wearing an ankle monitor?"

Retzlaff goes on to say, "I humbly ask you to consider this when Tommy appears before you. I know that I am stepping out on a limb by asking such a huge favor. Locking him behind bars could not possibly benefit him or our state. I know with all my heart, Tommy does not belong there."

"If we have a defendant who is at home incarcerated on house arrest so to speak, for DWI because of consumption of alcoholic beverages what do you think that individual is going to be doing the whole time he is court-ordered to be incarcerated in his home - when he is not at work? -- He is going to be drinking," said DeRosier, "There comes a point in time when there is only one treatment for multiple DWI offenders and that is putting them in jail."

DeRosier says part of the problem is a statute that recommends for judges to reduce sentences for third and fourth time offenders to 30-to-45 days. He and others are set to go before the state legislature to get that part of the statute amended.

 Thomas Swaggart is scheduled to be back in court to face these charges on January 28, 2010.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • LaGrange teacher accused of having sexual relationship with student

    LaGrange teacher accused of having sexual relationship with student

    Thursday, May 24 2018 10:39 PM EDT2018-05-25 02:39:48 GMT
    James Gaharan Jr. (Source: Calcasieu Correctional Center)James Gaharan Jr. (Source: Calcasieu Correctional Center)

    A LaGrange High School teacher is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. James Gaharan Jr., 54, of Lake Charles, was indicted in Calcasieu court Thursday on two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, computer-aided solicitation of a minor and obstruction of justice. Authorities began investigating on May 15, according to a news release from Cmdr. James McGee, with the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office. ...

    More >>

    A LaGrange High School teacher is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. James Gaharan Jr., 54, of Lake Charles, was indicted in Calcasieu court Thursday on two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, computer-aided solicitation of a minor and obstruction of justice. Authorities began investigating on May 15, according to a news release from Cmdr. James McGee, with the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office. ...

    More >>
  • Sulphur assault suspect captured

    Sulphur assault suspect captured

    Thursday, May 24 2018 9:11 PM EDT2018-05-25 01:11:16 GMT
    (Source: Sulphur Police)(Source: Sulphur Police)
    (Source: Sulphur Police)(Source: Sulphur Police)
    Sulphur Police report assault suspect William Micheal Tibbits, Jr., was captured Thursday evening. Mel Estess, Sulphur police spokesperson, says tips led officers to a home where Tibbits barricaded himself inside. He says Sulphur officers and Lake Charles SWAT were on the scene for a couple of hours Thursday, May 24, before Tibbits was eventually taken into custody. Tibbits was considered armed and dangerous following an assault on Lori Lane Tuesday. He's ac...More >>
    Sulphur Police report assault suspect William Micheal Tibbits, Jr., was captured Thursday evening. Mel Estess, Sulphur police spokesperson, says tips led officers to a home where Tibbits barricaded himself inside. He says Sulphur officers and Lake Charles SWAT were on the scene for a couple of hours Thursday, May 24, before Tibbits was eventually taken into custody. Tibbits was considered armed and dangerous following an assault on Lori Lane Tuesday. He's ac...More >>
  • BREAKING

    LCPD: Kidnapping suspect apprehended after woman found bound on La. 14

    LCPD: Kidnapping suspect apprehended after woman found bound on La. 14

    Thursday, May 24 2018 8:20 PM EDT2018-05-25 00:20:07 GMT
    Authorities search for a suspect on 3rd Street, near La. 14, Thursday morning. (Source: Johnathan Manning / KPLC)Authorities search for a suspect on 3rd Street, near La. 14, Thursday morning. (Source: Johnathan Manning / KPLC)

    A large police presence was on Third Street, near La. 14, Thursday morning after receiving a call of a possible kidnapping, said Lt. Richard Harrell, with the Lake Charles Police Department. The person who was the target of the alleged kidnapping is an adult an is in police care, Harrell said. Harrell said Lake Charles police and members of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office searched for the suspect, but were unable to locate the person. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

    More >>

    A large police presence was on Third Street, near La. 14, Thursday morning after receiving a call of a possible kidnapping, said Lt. Richard Harrell, with the Lake Charles Police Department. The person who was the target of the alleged kidnapping is an adult an is in police care, Harrell said. Harrell said Lake Charles police and members of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office searched for the suspect, but were unable to locate the person. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly