Travers Mackel | WDSU | July 24, 2020
St.JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. —
An embattled St. John judge who was benched but still paid after being indicted for sexual misconduct with minors has now qualified to run for the same judge seat he has been suspended from for years.
St. John the Baptist Parish Judge Jeff Perilloux qualified Friday for the judge seat he currently holds but is benched from.
Nghana Lewis and Leandre Millet, both democrats, also qualified for the judge seat.
Perilloux was indicted on three felony counts of inappropriate behavior with a juvenile and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery.
He was suspended shortly after the allegations were publicized.
Records WDSU Investigates obtained show he’s been getting paid not to work for two years while waiting to go to trial. Other judges are getting paid extra to cover his cases. Combined with his salary, it’s cost taxpayers nearly a half-million dollars.
According to records from the Louisiana Supreme Court, Judge Jeff Perilloux has not been on the bench since taking a leave of absence in May 2018. Since then, he has been paid more than $308,000 without spending a single day in the courtroom.
Perilloux has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In a WDSU Investigates report back in May, state records show cases that would have been assigned to Perilloux have been added to the dockets of seven other judges at a cost of more than $176,000. Between Perilloux’s salary and the money to cover his caseload, taxpayers have picked up the tab for more than $484,000.
“The problem is concluding this case. This case just became even more bogged down in quicksand because of the virus situation that the nation is dealing with,” said Rafael Goyeneche, the head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a local watchdog organization at the time of the report. “When you look at the dollars and cents, it’s going to be upsetting because this is allegations of misconduct by a public official. It makes it even more egregious when you are talking about a judge.”
Perilloux was scheduled to face trial in March 2019, but his court date has been delayed five times, most recently due to shutdowns associated with coronavirus, according to the St. John the Baptist Clerk of Court.
The Louisiana Constitution allows judges to collect pay while they are under suspension, and they also continue to earn retirement.
“This is a concrete example of how it’s costing the public to pay not one salary but two salaries. Additionally, every day the judge is not there but being paid, he’s also one day more vested in the judicial pension system as well,” Goyeneche said. “It’s taking too long for judicial misconduct in cases involving administrative proceedings to be adjudicated, that’s something I think needs to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.”
His trial has been rescheduled for July.
He attorney provided the following statement in May:
“Judge Perilloux is very anxious to get back to the job that the citizens of St. John The Baptist elected him to do. He has every intention of running for re-election this fall. Trial in his case is scheduled to begin on Monday July 13 in Edgard. We are hopeful to have a jury selected and the case tried before the end of that week.”