The Investigators: Offenders in Iberville Parish escaping ankle monitors

The Investigators: Offenders in Iberville Parish escaping ankle monitors
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)

IBERVILLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Ankle monitors are placed on people who get out on bond or reduced bonds so they can be accounted for, but what good is the monitor if the offender is not wearing it?

"When we hear that door slam (at the jail), we know where they are. When they have GPS monitoring on, we should also know where they are," said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.

As the sheriff in Iberville parish, Stassi takes his responsibility very seriously making sure all inmates are accounted for at all times.

But when an offender is given bail and able to bond out, it is their responsibility to still show up for court appearances. In some cases, they are given an ankle monitor. The monitoring company is then responsible for the offender's whereabouts.

"Over the last six months, we've had occasions where these GPS leg monitoring devices have either been removed or some type of interference," Sheriff Stassi said.

There are three recent cases Sheriff Stassi talked about.

Chad Fonseca, who used to be a Plaquemine police officer until he quit, was arrested in a drug round-up by Iberville parish deputies in December 2015.

A $60,000 bond was set. However, instead of having to pay that amount, a judge allowed Fonseca to get out with only an ankle monitor.

Sometime later, while undercover narcotics detectives were out, they spotted Fonseca and immediately called the monitoring agency asking where he was, knowing he was not at home.

"We were given he was at home," Sheriff Stassi said.

Fonseca somehow was able to get out of his ankle monitor.

Stassi: "We actually had the monitoring device prior to having Mr. Chad Fonseca back in jail."
Kiran: "In Fonseca's case, did the monitoring company even know he had slipped out of his monitor?"
Stassi: "We were not notified that it had been removed."

Van Hopkins is the CEO of the ankle monitoring company AEM. That company was monitoring both Fonseca and another offender who got out of his ankle monitor, Shane Giep.

Kiran: "What happened in these two cases?"
Hopkins: "We had an unfortunate situation over there where our communication did not flow properly and the offenders were able to get out of their equipment."

Giep was arrested on drug charges in December. In January, he was also able to get released with an ankle monitor instead of having to pay any bond, but he slipped out of his monitor as well.

"We were notified by the courts he failed to show up at his court date sentence and once we did, we started looking for him," said Sheriff Stassi.

Once again, deputies found the ankle monitor, but Giep was on the run.

Kiran: "Does your company take any responsibility that you were supposed to be monitoring him 24/7 and he ran?"
Hopkins: "I take ownership of it personally. Yeah, absolutely. It's very personal issue. We're very upset when something like that occurs. It's why we've reacted to those things and acted to correct any loopholes or opportunities for error that are present."

The most alarming of the three was James Brewer, arrested on a slew of sex related charges in August 2013, including aggravated rape and oral sexual battery. His bond was set at $350,000. A year later, it was reduced to $150,000, and he had to have an ankle monitor on and continue to pay the monitoring fee every month.

A monitoring company out of Baton Rouge called Criminal Justice Service Program was in charge of Brewer.

In late March, the manager of that company, Amber Kepper, emailed the court saying Brewer could not afford the monthly monitoring fee. Part of the email reads:

"He (Brewer) is currently in arrears $2450 on his fees. Therefore I removed his equipment today. Please let me know if you need any points/locations on him at all, they are archived forever."

"If she would have delivered him back to the jail, took the leg monitoring device off, we wouldn't be here today," Sheriff Stassi said. "I think her actions directly put the citizens of Iberville in harm's way as well as any other citizens of Louisiana."

Brewer was briefly on the run, but was recaptured one day after his story was on WAFB.

The Investigators had an interview scheduled with Kepper to talk about the monitoring service and Brewer's release, but she sent a text message, canceling.

"Hi Kiran, I found out last night James Brewer is in custody so I guess there's no need for an interview. If you have any more questions about how the monitor operates just let me know. My day is looking more busy than in anticipated," said Kepper in a text.

So the Investigators went by her office.

After knocking on a door, someone answered and told the Investigators to go around and wait in the lobby. The Investigators waited half an hour before Kepper sent a text that said "I hear you are trespassing at my office. Please leave kindly. I'll call the police."

The Investigators tried to call her as well, but she never returned the call.

"Ms. Kepper is not a company I would ever use again," said Sheriff Stassi.

Sheriff Stassi said every time deputies have to go out and look for people they have already arrested, it's taking away time from other cases.

"These people use this as a money making opportunity and they don't understand the seriousness of what they do when they place these leg monitors on these people," Sheriff Stassi said.

All three men have now been arrested. Giep, who was on the run, was picked up in Mississippi as a fugitive for Iberville Parish in late April. Brewer was arrested walking up an interstate ramp just one day after WAFB ran a story asking for the public's help in finding him. Fonseca was arrested when detectives saw him in a drug area.

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