Work-release program escapee recaptured by St. Charles deputies

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2005


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – A St. Charles Parish inmate, who escaped to freedom after walking off a Jan. 23 work-release detail, is back in jail – awaiting trial.

The New Orleans Police Department arrested Otis Berthey on Jan. 25 at 9:21 a.m. for trespassing at 3400 Thalia Street.

A background check revealed Berthey was wanted on a warrant issued by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for simple escape.

The escapee was transferred by the JPSO to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

Berthey walked away from a work-release job site at the McDonald’s Restaurant on Airline Drive in Metairie. He was serving a five-year sentence for burglary.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said, “I knew he would be captured. It was just a matter of time.

Champagne said Berthey is going to pay a hefty price for his two-day vacation.

“He (Berthey) will receive six months to one year additional prison time for the escape,” said Champagne. “He will also lose good behavior time he earned in prison. This could increase his sentence two years.”

Champagne said he still believes in the work-release program.

“It’s a good program. It gets the prisoner reacquainted with society before he is released from prison,” said Champagne.

The sheriff said only model prisoners can participate in the program.

Prisoners convicted of violent crimes and prisoners with more than two years remaining on their sentence cannot participate in the program.