NEW ORLEANS – A justice of the peace in Jefferson Parish is barred from performing his duties pending an investigation into alleged misuse of court funds in withdrawals made at casinos.
On Aug. 31, an official Louisiana Supreme Court document
recommended that, effective immediately, Justice of the Peace Patrick DeJean,
Second Justice Court of the Jefferson Parish, be disqualified from exercising
any judicial function during investigative proceedings based on alleged misuse
of court funds – more than $217,000 in public money.
A Sept. 6 article in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans explained that
DeJean was temporarily disqualified from his role as officials investigate
whether he misused thousands of dollars in garnishment payments and public
The Sept. 6 article said the state judiciary commission allegedly found that from August 2011 through September 2013, DeJean withdrew more
than $217,000 from the court's operating account at several casinos for
“Louisiana's Supreme Court disqualified Patrick DeJean
of the Second Justice Court in Marrero after the Judiciary Commission of
Louisiana reported that there is evidence of him improperly handling
garnishment payments, depositing those payments into his court's operating
account and then using those funds for himself,” the article said. “According
to the commission's 17-page recommendation for DeJean to be disqualified, there
is evidence indicating he frequently made cash withdrawals from his
court's operating account at several casinos. He funded those withdrawals in
part with garnishment payments coming into his court and with money loaned
by a bank to his court, according to the commission's document.”
The court document explained that the operating amount was
overdrawn on numerous occasions after the garnishment money and bank loans were
In 2014, DeJean was also accused of obtaining over $52,000 in
secured loans to pay for computers, software and furnishings for the court, and
used that property as collateral to secure the loan.
First Bank and Trust of New Orleans filed suit against
DeJean, seeking immediate repayment of the outstanding amount, $44,000, after
officials became concerned about the manner in which the loan was secured.
"Pretty much it's almost like a private loan,” DeJean
said in an interview. “If it wasn't paid, they would come in and take the
Now, with $217,000 in public money allegedly
misappropriated, DeJean claims his bookkeeping was sloppy, but he did not use
“DeJean's attorney Dane Ciolino addressed his client's
concerns two days after Louisiana's Supreme Court temporarily
disqualified DeJean from his duties,” the Sept. 6 article said. “The
Judiciary Commission of Louisiana submitted a disqualification
recommendation to the court, accusing DeJean of using garnishment payments and
taking out unauthorized loans to ‘regularly engage in gambling practices that
possibly reflect a gambling problem.’"
The commission said it had credible evidence showing that
DeJean was involved in misconduct, but
Ciolino stated the commission had not shown that evidence.
“Ciolino said Wednesday (Sept. 7) DeJean ‘denies any willful
wrongdoing,’” the article said. “The attorney's 152-page report, intended
to oppose the Judiciary Commission's recommendation, includes documents like affidavits,
financial records and additional notes to disprove the commission's
Despite DeJean’s willingness to provide evidence to absolve
him, the amount of funds allegedly used has raised some concerns, and the
article explained that the FBI and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's
Office are also investigating DeJean for similar allegations.