McKenzie police nab man wanted in five states

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2006

A fugitive, who was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had been on the run for almost eight years, and his run ended Thursday night when McKenzie Police officer Ronnie Terry stopped the man for speeding in McKenzie.

Joseph Andre Portier, 36, was arrested and charged with speeding, DUI, possession of a pistol without a permit, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Those charges are just the tip of the iceberg. Portier faces charges in Atlantic City, N.J., Houston, Louisiana and Florida.

Portier, who has three different aliases, is wanted for his alleged involvement in a large scale organization that defrauded casinos throughout the United States in the fall of 1998, according to the FBI wanted poster.

Terry said he stopped the 2003 Cadillac Escalade for speeding around 9 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Butler County Road 9 in McKenzie.

&#8220I walked up to the car and could smell alcohol on his breath,” Terry said. &#8220I asked him if he had been drinking, and he said no. I asked him to step out of the car and then noticed (some) cocaine next to him. He had white powder on his face, his shirt and pants.”

Terry said that he called for assistance from the K-9 unit to search the vehicle. After the search a cigarette box was discovered with what was believed to be cocaine.

Inside the vehicle, Terry said it was loaded with various items like boxes of new shoes, a plasma TV, medical records and various credit cards with different names on them.

&#8220Then my partner Jamie Jones found what is believed to be a crack rock in the passenger floorboard,” Terry said. &#8220We ran 14 different names, five social security numbers and four phone numbers that he gave us, and they all were bogus.”

Terry said that the vehicle Portier, who said that he was traveling through to help a girlfriend in Greenville, was driving had been reported stolen in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., where he is wanted for theft of property first-degree.

He also is wanted in three states for alleged drug distribution with the latest being on Jan. 7 in Opelousas, La., according to Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris.

Portier is wanted there for possession of 12 pounds of marijuana.

He also is wanted in Lafayette, La., where he was found on Dec. 30, 2005, for possession of 15 pounds of marijuana.

Portier, who is being held at the Butler County Jail without bond, also is wanted by law enforcement authorities in Georgia for distribution of cocaine and in Texas on felony possession of marijuana charges.

The fraud was committed through the use of counterfeit cashier's checks, counterfeit driver's licenses, cellular telephones and remote call forwarding.

The poster later states that in October 1998, Portier traveled to Atlantic City, N.J., from Houston and allegedly passed numerous counterfeit checks at several casinos.

Potier was indicted on one count of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of counterfeit securities in New Jersey.

Portier previously owned an entertainment business in the Houston area, according to the FBI.