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Metro Council member loses property dispute case, ordered to pay $57K in restitution
BATON ROUGE - After failing to show up for court twice, an East Baton Rouge Metro councilman has been ordered to pay restitution and remove property in violation of parish code.
A judge has ordered Councilman Cleve Dunn to pay his neighbor, Eugene Michelli, $57,000 in restitution. The property in violation of parish code includes a driveway, a fence and a pool house kitchen. The fence that was built over the property line is now Michelli's, since it was built on Michelli's property.
"We're excited; I'm just trying to get this burden off my back. We just hope that he'll settle," Michelli said.
The dispute dates back to October 2020, when Dunn started remodeling the home that is outside of his district. The property is near Millerville Road and S. Flannery Road in Sherwood Manor Subdivision. Michelli says the property improvements became the source of his stress that bled his pocketbook dry.
Michelli said Dunn's property improvements washed away his land, pushing dirt onto the sidewalk and into the street. He also says it caused his home to flood during the May 2021 storm. Michelli installed sump-pumps to prevent it from happening again.
In September 2021, Dunn told 2 On Your Side that he's not responsible for his neighbor's flooding concerns. The city-parish government took issue with the property improvements, failing him on multiple inspections. The inspections noted violations with the fence, a pool house that's built too close to the servitude, and a driveway that's too wide. The work was not permitted. Dunn applied for a permit but never supplied the correct material to the parish.
In November 2022, Michelli told 2 On Your Side that it cost him the sale of his home.
Michelli says he attempted to reason with his neighbor but communication stopped. Michelli sued Dunn in December 2021 over the issues. The case was continued several times, two judges recused themselves, then the third judge retired before it ended up in the hands of Judge Beau Higginbotham. Dunn didn't show up to a hearing on March 14, then missed his contempt of court hearing Thursday. The judge awarded the case to Michelli.
Judge Higginbotham didn't provide a deadline for Dunn to respond.
Brittany Weiss called Dunn Thursday and he suggested contacting his lawyer, Representative Edmond Jordan. Jordan did not respond to phone calls or a text message requesting comment.