A Nassau County probation officer is facing bribery and official misconduct charges after his arrest for allegedly coercing a probationer to steal goods and funnel the profits to him.
Andy Jean-Louis, 46, of Dix Hills, who was arrested Tuesday, pleaded not guilty in Wednesday in Nassau County Court in Mineola after the unsealing of a 37-count indictment. He faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
Jean-Louis threatened the female victim with a probation violation that would send her back to jail for a year if she didn’t cooperate, according to prosecutors.
He also faces charges of coercion and attempted coercion, attempted grand larceny, attempted criminal possession of stolen property and attempted criminal impersonation.
Jean-Louis’ attorney, Miali Makelele of Uniondale, said after the arraignment that his client was “an honest and a hardworking man” who was married and the father of three children.
“My client maintains his innocence. And we’ll deal with it when he has his day in court,” Makelele said.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty set bail at $25,000 cash or bond and ordered the defendant to surrender his passport. She also issued an order telling Jean-Louis to stay away from the probationer.
Jean-Louis, whom the county hired in September 2009, will be fired for official misconduct, Deputy County Executive Charles Ribando said Wednesday.
Prosecutors said the investigation began after the alleged victim came forward in May, saying Jean-Louis had been urging her since March to commit thefts in exchange for favorable probation reports.
The Nassau district attorney’s office said an investigation showed that Jean-Louis coerced the woman to steal several times and then return the goods for gift cards — which he said he needed to buy clothes for his children.
Prosecutors said the woman, who was on probation for thefts, gave Jean-Louis about $800 in gift cards from T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Best Buy, and he gave her $100 back. The defendant also allegedly gave the probationer someone else’s expired driver’s license to help her return merchandise without raising suspicions.
In one instance, prosecutors said, Jean-Louis gave the woman $120 for a Nintendo game system worth about $326 — while acknowledging during the transaction that he had given her a “favorable report.”
District Attorney Madeline Singas said Wednesday that Jean-Louis “put this woman at his mercy” and “completely abused the trust that people place in him in law enforcement.” Calling his alleged abuse of authority “particularly heinous,” Singas said the investigation was continuing and urged other potential victims to come forward.