Fugitive contractor released from Texas jail after Calcasieu hold cancelled

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 8:22 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Were you a victim of contractor fraud after the hurricanes? If so, have you seen justice yet?

A lot of these types of stories fade from the headlines as time goes by. We found one such case where the suspect was caught and then let go.

Since Hurricane Laura slammed the area in August 2020, storm survivors have complained of contractors who stole their money or didn’t do what they were hired to do. Victims were anxious to get law enforcement involved and applauded a contractor task force set up by the sheriff and district attorney.

But what has been the outcome of charges and restitution for those unfairly deprived of repairs and money? One such contractor is Thomas Earl McClendon, a roofer who at last word was charged with several counts of contractor fraud in Calcasieu Parish.

Last September he was pulled over in Comanche County, Texas on a traffic stop. Officers there found Calcasieu had put a hold or detainer on McClendon for contractor fraud. So, McClendon sat in jail there for a week in September 2022.

The sheriff in Texas said they let him go after getting a teletype message that the Calcasieu District Attorney’s Office advised warrants were still active, but that they would not extradite McClendon at that time and to please remove the hold on him.

We reached out to the DA’s Office to ask why he was released. They call McClendon a fugitive but say they are “looking at the case deeper and do not have all the information to be able to do an interview for today.”

At last word, McClendon was doing contractor work in Texas.

A citizen concerned McClendon has yet to answer for his alleged crimes, said a Calcasieu official said the hold was lifted because they didn’t want to pay the cost to extradite him from Texas. We hope to get a response from the DA’s Office on Wednesday.