Knight Oil Tools executive Mark Knight was booked Tuesday afternoon at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on a charge of racketeering.
Two law enforcement officers and a high-ranking Lafayette oil executive have been accused of scheming to have a Lafayette man, the oil executive's brother, arrested last year by planting drugs in his car.
Authorities say the June 2014 arrest of Bryan Knight was the result of a scheme in which Mark Knight of Knight Oil Tools paid more than $100,000 in cash and gifts to two officers and to Russell Manual, a Knight employee, a news release from Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police said.
Through emails and text messages found on Manual's cellphone, investigators have determined that two magnetic cases were purchased and attached to Bryan Knight's car and filled with narcotics last June. A tip was then called in to authorities, who made the arrest.
Charges against Bryan Knight, a former executive at Knight Oil and Mark Knight's brother, were dropped in December by the District Attorney's Office.
A tip to authorities in March led law enforcement officers to open an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bryan Knight's arrest. That tip was that the magnetic case attached to Bryan Knight's car was the same type used at Knight. After questioning Manual, investigators determined that Mark Knight paid him and two officers -- Jason Kinch, a Lafayette Parish Sheriff's deputy assigned to the narcotics task force and Corey Jackson, a Louisiana state trooper -- to participate in the scheme last June.
Kinch has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2005; he was assigned to the Metro Narcotics Unit in October 2013. Jackson had been a trooper assigned to patrol since 2004.
In January, Mark Knight was removed as CEO and president of Knight Oil Tools, although he remained chairman of the board of directors of the company. Knight named Earl Blackwell president and CEO of Knight at that time.
Blackwell said Monday afternoon he could not say what Mark Knight's status was with the company. He said the board meets on a regular basis and the members are in contact with one another.
According to the company's website, Mark Knight and Bryan Knight are two of three children of Ann Knight and Eddy Knight, founders of Knight Oil Tools. Mrs. Knight served as chairwoman of the board of directors from her husband's death in 2002 until 2012.
Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Mark Knight on the charge of racketeering and for Russell Manual on the charges of criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine, possession of Lortab, possession of methadone, extortion and intimidating a witness.
Maj. Art LeBreton, chief deputy at the Sheriff's Department, said Mark Knight had been made aware that there was a warrant for his arrest, but that he had not been arrested as of mid-morning Monday.
"We don't know his whereabouts," LeBreton said.
Jackson was arrested Saturday in Lafayette and charged with racketeering. He was transported to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Kinch was arrested Sunday, and he has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending an Internal Affairs investigation. Both men have been booked on the charges and released.
The case remains under investigation. LeBreton said there are no additional suspects in the case.