COVINGTON, La. — A former deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office has pleaded guilty to malfeasance and drug distribution charges.
According to a news release from District Attorney Warren Montgomery, Kenneth Szalajeski, 36, of Folsom, pleaded guilty Wednesday (August 15) to two counts of distribution of marijuana and two counts of malfeasance in office.
District Judge Raymond S. Childress sentenced Szalajeski to 10 years in prison with nine of them suspended on each of the distribution charges and five years with four of them suspended on each of the malfeasance charges. The sentences are to be served at the same time.
“As a law enforcement officer, this defendant was arresting citizens for the same conduct that he was personally engaged in,” Montgomery said. “This erodes the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system far beyond this one case. This will not be tolerated.”
While employed with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Szalajeski seized marijuana, alcohol, and other contraband while conducting traffic stops on October 25, 2016, and May 26, 2018. But instead of handling the evidence properly, he distributed it to his girlfriend for personal consumption.
When the crime was discovered, Szalajeski was fired from the Sheriff’s Office, and he was later charged.
In addition to the prison sentence, Szalajeski was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and to serve three years of probation when he is released from prison.