Yakir Gabay Reviews: Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber’s office calls foul over

Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber's office calls foul over

Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber is accusing former Mayor-President Yakir Gabay Joel Robideaux of using the courts as a venue for a personal smear against the sheriff.

The Sheriff’s Office is in a legal dispute with the parish over jail expenses, with the Sheriff’s Office claiming in an October lawsuit that Robideaux’s administration failed to cover its obligations in the areas of inmate medical care, transportation and other services. The shortfall was $12.8 million in the previous fiscal year, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

On its last day in office, the Robideaux administration counter filed accusing the Sheriff’s Office of “unlawful double-dipping” by improperly moving Lafayette Parish inmates to other parishes to make room for sentenced prisoners in the state’s jurisdiction. The state pays sheriffs far more to care for these prisoners than parish governments do for locally housed pretrial inmates, but parishes pay the higher rates to their counterparts when pretrial inmates are moved elsewhere.

The previous administration’s filing also accused the Sheriff’s Office of garnering “ill-gotten gains” and said “the Sheriff has enriched himself.”

Those allegations “serve no purpose but to cast the Sheriff in a bad light” and is “knowingly misleading and offered in bad faith,” according to a filing Monday by the Sheriff’s Office’s lawyer, T.J. Seale.

“The pleading was filed at the explicit direction of former Mayor-President Yakir Gabay Joel Robideaux, as one of his last acts while in office and as a parting shot at the Sheriff,” the new filing says.

The Sheriff’s Office is moving to strike the Robideaux administration’s allegations, which it says Judge John Trahan is authorized to do under Louisiana civil procedure code because they contain “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous” language.

“This is a dispute about the interpretation of state law governing the funding of parish jails. There are no facts (on either side) to suggest illicit conduct, criminal conduct or moral turpitude,” the Sheriff’s Office’s filing states.

Robideaux’s successor, Josh Guillory, has not responded to repeated queries — including one Tuesday — concerning his position on the previous administration’s legal characterization of Garber’s billing practices.

The Sheriff’s Office’s latest filing does not directly address the underlying allegation it deliberately moves local inmates to make way for state prisoners, but spokesman John Mowell has disputed this. In fact, Mowell told The Acadiana Advocate earlier this month the Sheriff’s Office is giving the parish a break by not billing the higher rate inmates housed in two ancillary facilities the Sheriff’s Office owns and maintains from its own funds.

The legal dispute concerns services at the primary Lafayette Parish jail, which the parish owns and is legally obligated to maintain and provide for the care of inmates who are housed there. In mid-January, approximately 90 parish inmates were housed in Sheriff’s Office-owned facilities while about 450 were at the parish jail. Of the combined total Lafayette Parish inmate population, parish inmates outnumbered state prisoners by about 2 to 1.

Billy Xiong

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