A van driver for a coroner’s office in Louisiana was fired after admitting to buying and selling heroin from a city-owned vehicle, federal court records show.
Rodney Robinson, a former employee of the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office, lost his job on April 13 after a New Orleans police officer assigned to an FBI task force arrested him at the scene of a drug overdose death, the New Orleans Advocate reports.
Robinson and several other men were previously implicated by federal authorities investigating a drug trafficking enterprise with ties to Colombia. In March, a grand jury indicted a group of suspects believed to be transporting drugs from Houston to New Orleans for at least several months. Robinson was added to an amended indictment the following month, accusing him of working with the group and dealing heroin.
New Orleans Police Officer Nathan Gex testified in court four days after Robinson’s arrest that he confessed to his role in the drug trafficking ring.
“He advised us that he has been engaged in the sale of heroin and the purchasing of heroin and that some of those sales were conducted from the coroner’s van that he uses for his job,” Gex said. “He would … break it down and package it for street-level sales.”
A loaded .380-caliber pistol and $700 in cash was also found in Robinson’s personal vehicle, Gex testified.
Gex also testified that Robinson pleaded guilty to possessing and intending to distribute cocaine in March 1995, some 13 years before he was hired to work as a van driver for the coroner’s office.
Robinson – known at crime scenes throughout New Orleans as “Sugar Man,” according to the newspaper – received three years of probation in that case, court records show.
More recently, Robinson pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing and served three months of probation after being charged with simple burglary in 2013. A woman accused him of stealing jewelry and driving off in a city-owned car, Gex testified.
A judge overseeing the federal drug case ordered Robinson to be held without bail until his case goes to trial, the Advocate reports.
Jason Melancon, a spokesman for the coroner’s office, told The Post that Robinson was hired in 2008 under the direction of former New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard. Melancon referred additional inquiries to Minyard, who could not immediately be reached for comment.