Calcasieu D.A.’s Office to scrutinize extradition of contractors accused of fraud

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu District Attorney’s office has changed procedures to more closely evaluate whether those accused of contractor fraud should be forced to come back to Louisiana for prosecution.

It turns out, cost is a factor in deciding whether to extradite certain suspects.

Thomas Earl McClendon was picked up in Comanche, Texas last September and held in jail for eight days. That’s because Calcasieu Parish had a detainer or hold on him for three counts of contractor fraud.

According to initial reports, McClendon stole from people. In one case he allegedly took $90,000 in cashed checks, and was not licensed in Louisiana.

But McClendon was released when the jail in Texas was notified the Calcasieu D.A.’s Office did not want to extradite him.

Historically, officials say such decisions are left to individual assistant DAs. In McClendon’s case, the extradition contractor used by the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office wanted $4,200 to fly McClendon back to Calcasieu. The Assistant D.A. decided that was too much money and called off the hold on McClendon, so he was set free.

A spokesperson for the D.A.’s office says from now on, extradition in contractor fraud cases will be evaluated by First Assistant D.A. Jacob Johnson.

In a statement, D.A. Stephen Dwight says they must balance the use of taxpayer dollars with the likely outcome of a case. Also, the D.A.’s Office is taking measures to bring fugitive McClendon back to Calcasieu to face prosecution.

The D.A.’s statement says they take contractor fraud seriously and have had great success in getting justice for hundreds of local citizens who have fallen victim.