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Fraud charge turns into lawsuit against authorities

If a lawsuit is correct, authorities in Louisiana may have improperly arrested the president of a home elevation company. The company had fraud charges filed against it after a homeowner accused them of such. Those charges led to the arrest and incarceration of the company's president. He was in jail for eight hours before he was released by police. Now, the accused party has decided to sue the Sheriff's department and a detective who reportedly issued the arrest.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2012 in the 24th Judicial District Court against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office as well as the aforementioned detective. According to the company and its president, the agency investigated a claim of contractor fraud made against the home elevation company by a homeowner in Jefferson Parish. This claim and investigation eventually led to the president's arrest. The suit accuses the investigation with ignoring state-mandated stipulations listed in the Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Program. The Sheriff's Office was specifically accused of not properly teaching its detective what home improvement fraud entails and not training him properly to investigate such crimes.

This program requires contractors to follow state rules when performing home improvements and other services. Reports indicate that the homeowner who filed the claim of fraud against the company had told the company to stop working on the house. In the suit, the company said that parameters listed in the Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Program required it to finish the work because it had already started pre-digging on the site, causing costs to be incurred.

During the president's subsequent arrest, he reported that he was in jail with a former employee that had been arrested for allegedly stealing from the company. This reportedly made the situation much more tense. Due to his arrest and other factors, the company is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for legal fees, loss of reputation, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of time.

Source: Louisiana Record, "Elevation company president arrested for home improvement fraud sues Sheriff's Office and detective," Kyle Barnett, Feb. 12, 2013

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