GRETNA, La. — A Jefferson Parish justice of the peace has been disqualified
from performing his duties as officials investigate the alleged
misuse of thousands of dollars from the court’s operating account.
According to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office, Patrick
Hale DeJean, a justice of the peace for the Jefferson Parish’s 2nd
District court, was indefinitely suspended after it said that DeJean
had borrowed money from the First Bank and Trust from March 2012 to
July 2013, The Advocate reported.
Allegations of wrongdoing were received from the Judiciary
Commission of Louisiana after it reported that DeJean had improperly
handled money from the bank loans and was garnishing payments
received by the court, depositing those payments into his court’s
operating account and then using those funds for himself. The
Advocate reported that in the commission’s recommendation for
DeJean to be disqualified, it stated that there was evidence
suggesting that he frequently made cash withdrawals from his court’s
operating account and used the money at several casinos in the area.
Between August 2011 and September 2013, DeJean is alleged to have
withdrawn around $218,000 from his court’s operating account at
numerous casinos. Court documents state that these casinos include
Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi; Boomtown in Harvey; Harrah’s in
New Orleans; and L’Auberge in Lake Charles.
After receiving allegations of wrongdoing, Legislative Auditor
Daryl Purpera’s office began the investigation, NOLA.com reported.
The commission’s document stated that DeJean, who presided over
the West Bank jurisdiction since 2008, ordered wage garnishments to
be sent directly to his court and not to the judgment creditor, which
is required by law.
From August 2011 to November 2012, DeJean is alleged to have
written checks to himself from the court’s operating account
amounting to more than $95,000, The
Times Picayune reported. He alleges that he used some of those
payments to cover court costs; however, the commission’s report
stated that this explanation was not credible.
For 39 months starting from January 2011, the previous NOLA.com
stated, DeJean deposited around $208,196 in garnishment payments into
the court’s bank account. However, authorities said, they were only
able to ascertain $102,608 of that amount paid to creditors.
Meanwhile, between March 2012 and July 2013, DeJean is reported as
having taken out four loans in the court’s name from First Bank &
Trust, amounting to $52,840.
According to The
Advocate, he is alleged to have told the bank that the loans
would be used to buy new computer software and training for his
Also under investigation is DeJean’s former constable, Antoine
“Tony” Thomassie, who is alleged to have improperly used around
$17,500 in fees from the Second Justice Court Deputy Constables
Association from 2010 to 2013, as The
Times Picayune reported in a separate account. In the audit, it
states that Thomassie, founder of the organization, put cash
donations into his campaign’s bank account, accepting food, drinks,
and alcohol as “in-kind contributions.”
From January 2011 to March 2014, DeJean is suspected of having
mishandled proceeds, that should have been handled by Thomassie until
they were then transferred to a judgment creditor. The audit, stated,
however, that the constable maintained a separate bank account to
receive and pay-out garnishments.