St. Helena sheriff pleads guilty to role in illegal chop shop
Advocate staff writer
Published: Feb 5, 2007
Story updated: 9:40 a.m.
St. Helena Parish Sheriff Ronald “Gun” Ficklin pleaded guilty early Monday morning in Baton Rouge federal court for his role in an illegal chop shop.
Ficklin — whose trial was set to start Monday — pleaded guilty to 16 counts, including altering vehicle identification numbers, mail fraud and aiding a convicted felon in buying a firearm.
U.S. District Judge James Brady accepted a plea agreement during a last-minute hearing at 8 a.m. Monday. He later dismissed potential jurors awaiting selection for the trial, which was expected to last a month.
In a statement of facts of the case accompanying the plea, Ficklin admits, among other things, to selling a stolen truck to Greensburg Mayor Ken Carter.
He also admits he put Louisiana inmates housed in the St. Helena Parish Jail to work in the chop shop at B&D Auto in Greensburg.
Ficklin also admits using state inmates as the pit crew for his race car, “The Bounty Hunter.”
After the hearing, Ficklin declined to comment, saying, “You can talk to my attorney.”
When asked whether he planned to resign as sheriff, he said, “Oh, I have to.”
His lawyer, Frank Holthaus, said they were working on the details this morning.