Amite -- State judges signed new arrest warrants Thursday for seven of the nine alleged members of the Ponchatoula child-sex ring, adding a total of 19 felony counts to the list of crimes for which they face prosecution.
Three weeks ago, deputies began arresting people in connection with an alleged cult operating out of the Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula. Investigators accused members of raping children as part of occult rituals.
The new warrants increase the number of crimes the defendants are accused of committing and also add counts by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office for Hosanna pastor Louis David Lamonica and his wife, Robbin, said Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's spokeswoman Laura Covington.
Until Thursday's action by Tangipahoa Parish authorities, the estranged couple, both 45, had been arrested and held in Livingston Parish in connection with crimes allegedly committed only in Livingston Parish.
The new counts also increase the options open to the 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office for prosecuting the Lamonicas, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said. The 21st Judicial District comprises Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes.
Perrilloux may file charges against defendants in the parish courthouses in Livingston, Amite or both, depending on which crimes he chooses to prosecute. The limitation is that the state must prosecute the defendants in the parish where the crimes occurred, Perrilloux said.
On May 16, deputies booked Louis David Lamonica of Tickfaw on two counts of aggravated rape of a juvenile and one count of crime against nature in Livingston. Deputies also booked him Thursday on one count of aggravated rape of a juvenile under age 13, two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sex crimes in Amite, Covington said.
Robbin Lamonica of Holden was booked on count of aggravated rape on May 19 in Livingston. Deputies booked her Thursday on two counts of aggravated rape in Amite.
Patricia Pierson, 54, of Hammond was booked on one count of sexual battery and one count of principal to aggravated rape in Amite on May 23. On Thursday, deputies booked her with two counts of principal to aggravated rape.
Allen R. Pierson, 46, of Hammond was booked on one count of aggravated rape on May 18 in Amite. Deputies booked him Thursday with three more counts of aggravated rape.
Paul Fontenot, 21, of Hammond was booked on one count of aggravated rape on May 19 in Amite. Deputies on Thursday booked him with two counts of aggravated rape and one count of an aggravated sex crime.
Nicole Bernard, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, was booked on one count of aggravated rape on May 25 in Amite. Deputies booked her with a second count of aggravated rape Thursday.
Christopher Labat, 24, of Hammond originally was booked on one count of aggravated rape and one count of malfeasance in office. On Thursday, deputies booked him with two counts of aggravated rape and one count of failure to report child abuse. Labat had been a deputy for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office.
Authorities anticipate booking Labat on additional counts today, Covington said.
The additional warrants do not change where each defendant is housed, Covington said. The Lamonicas and Labat remain in jail in Livingston, Nicole Bernard in St. Tammany Parish and the remaining defendants in Amite.
Lois Ann Mowbray, 54, of Ponchatoula is out on $150,000 bond. Authorities arrested Mowbray and booked her with obstruction of justice, failure to report a felony and accessory after the fact to aggravated rape.
The additional counts came a day after an attorney for the pastor accused of participating in the child-sex ring contended that information released about his client would not hold up in court.
Defense attorney Michael Thiel said Wednesday that he not seen any self-implicating statement from his client, former Hosanna Church pastor Louis David Lamonica, a statement that authorities in Livingston Parish said was used as the basis for the pastor's arrest on May 16.
"Generally, I believe there's been a rush to judge based on conjecture, rumors and leaks to the media," Thiel said.
No new arrests were made Thursday, but investigators continue to say that they expect more to come, Covington said.
Perrilloux said he plans to convene a grand jury on June 24 to consider formal charges against all nine defendants.