St. John deputy arrested for theft of fine money

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011



LAPLACE – A 15-year veteran of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office was arrested after it was discovered she had stolen more than $20,000 in traffic fines while working as a clerk in the civil administration division.

Donna Breaud, 42, 170 Big Lou St., Reserve, was charged with felony theft after turning herself in, said Sheriff Wayne L. Jones. He said Breaud was fired on April 6 after she admitted to the theft and returned all $20,007 she stole over an undetermined period.

“I’m very disappointed because she was always a good employee,” Jones said. “Once we discovered the discrepancy in the fines, I had an obligation to do what was necessary to investigate the incident and turn it over to our district attorney.”

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, Breaud’s supervisor in civil administration discovered irregularities in the processing and handling of fines and traffic tickets while Breaud was away on an approved leave of absence.

Jones said he initiated a theft investigation on March 18 and said an external auditor was assigned to determine how much was missing. He said Breaud was informed of the investigation when she returned to work.

“She was fully cooperative with our investigation from the beginning,” Jones said. “She admitted to the theft when questioned.”

During interviews with investigators, Breaud admitted addictions to cocaine and pharmaceutical drugs. Jones said Breaud was suspended from her duties on March 21 and fired on April 6 before entering a drug treatment and counseling facility.

Jones said results of the investigation were forwarded to the Louisiana Legislative Auditors and the St. John District Attorney’s Office. He said an arrest warrant was obtained Tuesday, and Breaud surrendered. She was booked into the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility in LaPlace on a $20,007 bond set by Judge Sterling Snowdy. Breaud has since bonded out and is set to appear in court on June 20.

Since the discovery and investigation, Jones said he has implemented a new phone system to assist the office in collecting fines and limit the amount of cash that passes through that office. He said he is considering the potential for policies and procedures where no cash is accepted.

“This sort of thing happens too often in all walks of life,” Jones said. “We have to do what we can to curtail the problem.”