The Investigators: More questions about judge's bond orders
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Investigators looked into if a judge should force someone to use a private company's services, especially one where she has ties to its owners. The investigation has gotten the attention of people who work in the court system.
If you are arrested on District Court Judge Trudy White's watch, there is a good chance as a condition to get out of jail, she will order you to see a man by the name of Cleve Dunn Senior. He is one of her approved vendors listed on her website.
Dunn owns Rehabilitation Home Incarceration (RHI), which is a monitoring company for people who have been arrested.
The Investigators obtained records that show Dunn's name appearing repeatedly on almost every one of White's bond orders.
State records show that Dunn did work for White's last campaign as she ran for judge. In fact, his son, Cleve Dunn Junior was even the head of White's campaign.
White's orders apply to people across the board, from something as serious as domestic violence to something as simple as shoplifting, and all of these orders are costing people big time.
The fee alone just to see Dunn is more than $500 right off the bat, and then there is the $355 every two weeks or so. Keep in mind this is all on top of your bond.
The Investigators could not find any other service operating in our area that charges these kinds of fees.
Not to mention, the Investigators talked with some people who were able to make their bond, but they had to sit in jail because they could not pay RHI.
So even though there are other, cheaper companies and services used by the other judges. If White orders it, you must pay $550 to see her vendor, Dunn.
"It's like being told I want a Ford, but you will buy the Chevy for three times the price," said Matt Dennis.
Dennis is the director of operations at a supervision company based in New Orleans called A2I, which could be considered a competitor of RHI.
Dennis and A2I have decades of combined experience in the pre-trial supervision field and monitor offenders all across the country.
Dennis said once he started looking into RHI and their prices, he was shocked. In his opinion, he said based on his experience in the industry, RHI's prices are higher than they should be and would be lower if assignment to RHI was not mandatory.
"There is no way this operation would succeed in an open and free and fair market. If they were competing with this price, they would never get a customer," Dennis said. "Because you have to be considerate of some people are accused and they are wrongly accused and you're gouging these people so far above a market rate. The only reason you are getting away with it is because somebody is controlling your customer base. They're forcing a customer base to you."
For example, a Zachary man was arrested and accused of theft. Well, even before a trial, White ordered him to 90 days supervision and ordered him to see Dunn, which means pay the $550.
The man told Investigators that after paying the money, his supervision consisted of texting a woman at Dunn's office four times a day to check in. He said that monitoring cost him $225 every couple of weeks.
As for Dennis, he said in his opinion, things will eventually have to change.
"I believe the system will fix this. They're not gonna let this continue. It doesn't work for anybody. The whole justice system as a whole can't tolerate this because they do nothing it will spread," Dennis said. "What she's doing is providing an appearance of impropriety. She's definitely showing favoritism. Which is not something a judge can do."
The Investigators tried again to interview White about her connections to and repeated use of RHI. Her office responded saying the judge would not be able to do an interview, but included an updated picture of White to use in the Investigators' story.
Recently, the justice department has asked state courts to back off jailing people simply because they can not pay fees and fines.
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