Former NOPD officer pleads not guilty to federal drug charge

A former New Orleans police officer accused of trying to sell cocaine pleaded not guilty Wednesday during his arraignment before a federal magistrate judge.

Jason Cross tried to sell the drug Jan. 10, according to a bill of information filed Nov. 1. He was charged with one count of violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. When a defendant is charged with a bill rather than indicted, that usually indicates he is cooperating with prosecutors.

Cross, who appeared with his attorney, Robert Jenkins, signed a waiver of indictment, meaning he will forgo a grand jury hearing and his plea likely will change in the coming weeks because of his cooperation with prosecutors.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alma Chasez set Cross’ bond at $25,000 and ordered him not to leave Louisiana.

The bond is an unsecured appearance bond, meaning the judge has little reason to believe the defendant will flee and he does not have to post any money.

Cross faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $1 million if convicted.

Cross joined the New Orleans Police Department in March 2007.

He was most recently assigned to the 7th District, which patrols part of Gentilly and all of New Orleans East.

The NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau worked with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office on the investigation.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo.