INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Respected sheriff's captain caught lining his pockets, avoids prosecution
PORT ALLEN - Public records that are just coming to light show a high-ranking member of law enforcement got caught enriching himself off of the taxpayers' dime but managed to avoid any sort of prosecution.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained public records which show Steven Juge, a former captain at the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office, used his sheriff's office-issued unit to go to meetings for the Atchafalaya Levee Board. For four years, Juge billed the levee board for mileage on a car he drove that was not his and for gas he didn't pay for.
When reached by phone Tuesday, Juge blamed the secretary at the Levee Board for filling out the expense sheets, but he had no explanation for a handful of them that were signed by him.
Juge called all of this an oversight but admitted that ignorance of the law is no excuse in this case. He claims he asked for no favors.
The records show from 2008 until 2012, Juge billed the levee board for mileage driving a Pointe Coupee Sheriff's Unit to the meetings. An audit discovered the impropriety, according to John Grezaffi, President of the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District. Grezaffi said all of their findings were turned over to the District Attorney at the time, but the DA's office chose not to prosecute Juge. Juge wrote a check making restitution for the mileage reimbursements he received illegally totaling $2,058.28.
The statute of limitations has run out on this case for prosecution.
Retired Prosecutor Prem Burns said Juge should have been arrested and prosecuted.
"It's a form of malfeasance," Burns said. "It's obvious theft. It's double-dipping."
A lawyer hired by the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District wrote in a letter that all commissioners are provided with a booklet that spells out the law and reimbursable travel expenses. Juge was not eligible since he was driving a public truck to the meetings.
"In this case, not only has the person defrauded the sheriff's office of their monies of their gas, the wear and tear on their vehicle, they've also benefited and defrauded the other agency who's reimbursed them for it," Burns said. "It's almost a double-victim in this case."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported this summer that Juge was also the one who signed some of the timesheets for ghost employee Randy Guidroz. Guidroz worked for 12 years in Pointe Coupee Parish, but there's no record that Guidroz did a thing. That matter is now under investigation by the FBI.
With new revelations about Juge coming to light, Burns believes he has no business working in law enforcement.
"He should have been prosecuted," Burns said. "Personally they would have been fired or demoted and would certainly should not have been hired by another agency with that kind of history."
Juge recently left the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office before Sheriff Bud Torres vacated office. He currently works for the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office as a major.
Juge declined to do an on-camera interview.
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