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DA: Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s DWI call not a criminal act

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A call made to stop a DWI arrest was not a criminal act, according to the Terrebonne Parish District Attorney, even though that call was made to sheriff’s deputies by Terrebonne Parish Sheriff, L. Vernon Bourgeois, Jr.

The suspected drunken driver was not arrested by a Terrebonne sheriff’s deputy last month and Prosecutors said they will still look into the case despite the public comments by District Attorney Joe Waitz, Jr.

The suspect, 26 years-old and a Terrebonne Parish native now living in Friendswood, Texas, was seen driving the wrong way down Bayou Dularge Road when he was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy on April 8, 2012. The suspect admitted he was drunk, according to the police report, and the deputy was going to book him into the Terrebonne Parish jail on a DWI charge.

However, a phone call from Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois changed the outcome of events. According to recordings from the Sheriff’s Office, the suspect explains the situation to the Sheriff Bourgeois, who in turn says he would appreciate it if the deputy would “cut him a break.”

The suspect, the husband of the granddaughter of a prominent Houma attorney, was then let go.

The Parish Sheriff has said he did not explicitly tell the deputy to let the suspect go. He also said he did not know that the prominent Houma attorney’s law firm contributed money to his 2007 election campaign.

The suspect has a history of DWI charges. He pleaded guilty to a first-offense DWI charge in Lafourche Parish in 2008. He was placed on unsupervised probation for one year.

THe susp0ect was also arrested in 2003 on a DUI charge in Terrebonne Parish. He was put on probation as a result of that charge and, in 2005, after completing the program, the DUI charge was dismissed.

A second-offense DWI conviction can result in an offender going to jail for six months.

Rafael Goyeneche III, president of the New Orleans-based Metropolitan Crime Commission, has said Bourgeois’s actions border on criminal behavior. Goyeneche has suggested that State Police or the Attorney General’s Office look into the matter.

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About Jim Harmon

Jim Harmon is a founding member of Harmon, Smith and Vourvoulias L.L.C. Jim practices primarily in the areas of personal injury litigation, workers' compensation, and DUI defense.Jim Harmon's Google+ Profile

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