My latest for VICE on how a small town cop was accused of being in the Ku Klux Klan and fired after clashing with his corrupt police superiors. In fact, the cop was providing information to the FBI on the Klan.
Was This Louisiana Cop Accused of Being in the KKK Actually Fired for Objecting to Police Corruption?
September 4, 2015
by Nate Thayer
On Wednesday, a Louisiana cop outed as an alleged member of the Ku Klux Klan was fired from the Lake Arthur Police Department, an apparent case of yet another law enforcement bad apple that made national news.
But Detective Raymond Mott—who was photographed in KKK garb with his arm extended in a Nazi-like salute with a burning cross in the background—told VICE that he wasn’t fired for hate group ties but rather because he wouldn’t obey orders from his corrupt superiors to stop arresting drug dealers and fellow officers who broke the law. In fact, he says, he was trying to stop the KKK from spreading in his home state and has been secretly providing information to the FBI for the last year.
In August 2014, Mott—who had left his job at another police department and had yet to joint the Lake Arthur force—and another Louisiana man named Trey Gordon took a trip to “an anti-immigration” rally held by the Loyal White Knights of the KKK in North Carolina. When they got there, Mott said, the Klansmen “just spewed hate.”
“One guy from Georgia stood up and bragged about driving through a black area in his pickup truck and when he would pass a black person yell racial slurs and then smack them with a baseball bat,” Mott said. James Moore, their Imperial Klud—which is their Christian pastor—was openly calling for people to go on a ‘Knight Ride’ to ‘bash faggots.'”
Mott filled out an application for membership with the Loyal White Knights and paid his dues the day of the rally, “but not to join them but to destroy them,” he said. “I don’t fit in with that crowd.”
Mott and Gordon went back to Louisiana, ostensibly as Klansmen—but in reality, the two men say, they were stamping out the group, who Mott describes as “maybe 30 rednecks who go out and manipulate people saying they are a Christian organization but they are just common thugs who hate.”
Weeks later, Mott approached the FBI and began supplying them “everything I knew about the Klan—names, codes, everything.” FBI sources confirmed Mott’s account.
“We were the highest ranking members in Louisiana,” Mott said. “So all calls from new potential members in Louisiana to the national Klan office were passed to us… I told at least 30 or 40 people, ‘This is a scam. It is a hate group. You don’t want anything to do with these guys.'”
Sources in the Loyal White Knights confirmed that the Louisiana branch of the organization withered away, that they didn’t show up at any rallies after the North Carolina meeting, and all recruitment efforts in the state came to a halt. “We considered the realm in Louisiana dead,” said Jeremy Jones, who was a LWK Grand Dragon (or state leader) until he left the Klan in July.
In March 2015, Mott was hired by the Lake Arthur Police Department. Officials told VICE that Mott had gone through a full background check, which was spotless. Several officials confirmed they had known of Mott’s attendance at the Klan rally the same month he was hired and had a copy of the scandalous picture.
“This photo has been in the hands of my supervisor for nearly six months, yet no one is willing to step up and tell the truth about that,” Mott said.
Mott describes himself as a by-the-book officer who followed the letter of the law, someone who didn’t shy away from even arresting other cops if they broke the law. To hear Mott tell it, that ruffled a lot of feathers.
“I live in a town of 3,100 people. It is the good old boy system,” said Mott. “You know, ‘My daddy works here, so you can’t arrest me,’ or, ‘My cousin works here. I will call him and he will fix this.'”
Lake Arthur records show that Mott has arrested more people than any other officer on the 12-man force during the six months he has been working there, has no disciplinary infractions, and there are no complaints formally filed against him by residents. But Mott said that he got in trouble with his superiors after he put another cop in jail for refusing to sign a traffic ticket.
“He was let out of jail with no bond and the ticket was fixed,” Mott said. “I was given a direct order to never write another cop a ticket, which is also against the law. I refused.
“Then, in July, Assistant Police Chief Terrie Guillory ordered me to stop making drug busts for one and a half months. I told him, ‘No, I won’t stop. That is my job.’ He told me, ‘People are getting sick and tired of reading about Mott arresting drug dealers in the newspaper.’ And then last week, they released the photo and I am facing termination.”
On August 25, Mott says, he met with Police Chief Ray Marcantel, Guillory, and Chris Myers, an investigator for the Jefferson Davis Parish District Attorney. “They brought up the picture of me at the Klan rally. I said, ‘Hold on’ and I put the phone on speaker and dialed my FBI contact,” Mott told VICE. “I said, ‘I am here with my chief and I want you to tell him everything.’ She told all of them in the room that I had been providing information on the Klan.” (FBI sources confirmed the details of this phone call.)
When this story was relayed to Marcantel by VICE for comment, Marcentel replied, “Why are you calling me if you got all the facts already?” and then abruptly hung up the phone.
Mott’s allegations of corruption would seem absurd in many places, but not Jefferson Davis Parish, which includes Lake Arthur. Most notoriously, the area is home to the case of the “Jeff Davis 8,” a set of murders that have gone unsolved, allegedly because of rampant police misconduct. Investigative reporter Ethan Brown, whose book on the case will be published by Scribner/Simon and Schuster in the spring of 2016, said the parish “is the most stunning case of police corruption I’ve seen in my life… The major pattern is that all the law enforcement bad actors just move from one department to another.”
In particular, Terrie Guillory, who was Mott’s direct superior, has faced allegations of misconduct. According to Brown, witnesses who were interviewed by a multiagency task force investigating the Jeff Davis 8 killings said Guillory pimped out female inmates when he was warden at the Jefferson Davis Parish Jail and had sex with one of the victims while she was incarcerated there. “While Warden, Guillory was involved in brokering the purchase of a truck from one of his inmates which was later used to dispose of the body of one murdered woman,” Brown said.
Kirk Menard, a well-known private investigator in Jefferson Davis Parish who was once hired to look into the Jeff Davis 8 killings, agrees with Mott’s description of departmental politics. “Mott would not have been fired if he didn’t go up against Guillory,” he told VICE. “Guillory leaked that KKK picture last week because he wanted to get rid of Mott, not because of the Klan stuff. He had that photo since March or April and they knew Mott was working for the FBI on the Klan.”
(When contacted for this story, Guillory asked for questions to be submitted by email, but has not responded. Lake Arthur Mayor Robbie Bertrand refused to comment before hanging up the phone.)
According to Menard, Mott, and Ace Beverley, the African-American head of the Better Lake Arthur Committee, a civic organization, the former detective wasn’t fired until Guillory threatened to quit the force unless Mott was let go.
“Even after the photograph was released, both the Mayor and police chief said they were not going to fire Mott,” said Menard. “The next day, Guillory went into the chief’s office carrying his uniform and said, ‘If you won’t let Mott go, here is my uniform.'”
The following day, Mott was suspended and a process began that concluded on Wednesday, when he was formerly fired during a City Council meeting.
“We hope the City Council terminates Mott,” Beverley said as he and a packed house waited for the council to convene. “If we don’t get him out of here, I am afraid of what will happen to him.”
Mott acknowledges that his career in law enforcement is over, even though he maintains that he never broke any laws or departmental policies and claims he was working with the FBI to gather information on Klan activity. The reason given for Mott’s firing was that he lied to his bosses about not having belonged to the Klan, but Mott and other Lake Arthur officials as well as FBI sources say his superiors were fully aware of his interactions with the Klan and had a copy of the photo for six months.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the photo, “my hand was stretched in the salute of white pride at that North Carolina rally in that picture,” Mott said. “I know it looks bad unless you know the whole story. I take responsibility for my decision to attend that protest. However I will not take responsibility for something I did not do. I offered to provide evidence that I am not a member and do not have the same beliefs as that group and no one wants to hear it.”
Moments after his firing, Mott told VICE he was planning on getting an attorney to sue the city of Lake Arthur.
But Raymond Mott will never get his old job back. “Around here, you got to choose your battles. If the good old boys in local politics want you out, there is nothing you can do about it,” said Menard.
Nate Thayer is an award-winning freelance investigative journalist and correspondent with 25 years of foreign reporting experience.