AP NEWS

Louisiana court official sentenced to 3 years in fraud case

October 11, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former justice of the peace in a New Orleans suburb will serve three years in prison for diverting money from a court bank account for his personal use, federal prosecutors said.

Patrick Hale Dejean was sentenced Thursday. He is the former justice of the peace for the Second Justice Court of Jefferson Parish.

Prosecutors said Dejean made false statements to a bank to improperly borrow money on behalf of the court, then spent the funds on himself.

A statement from U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph of the western district of Louisiana said Dejean was convicted in February on 13 counts of mail fraud and three counts of making false statements.

Joseph’s office handled the case after the New Orleans-based eastern district U.S. Attorney’s Office was recused.

Joseph noted that in his role as justice of the peace, Dejean judged small claims civil cases for creditors seeking money from customers who were behind in their payments. Dejean ordered the employers of debtors to send wage garnishments directly to the Second Justice Court.

Prosecutors also said Dejean improperly used this process to enrich himself by failing to forward the proper amounts of the wage garnishments to the creditors. They said he primarily spent the money gambling at local casinos.

“In this case, Justice of the Peace Dejean targeted some of the most vulnerable members of our society and stole their hard earned wages, defrauded banks, and abused the trust placed in him by the public,” Joseph said in Thursday’s statement.