Elridge and Pauline Menard of Breaux Bridge were aquitted on racketeering charges that originated nearly four years ago, in 1999.
It was back then that Kyle Jones, an admitted crack addict, stole thousands of dollars worth of construction materials from nearly a dozen jobsites in Lafayette and St Martin Parish. Lumber, doors, door locks, light fixtures, tiles, and flooring were stolen by Jones and most were from sites where new homes were under construction.
Jones sold most of the material to several people and alleged that the Menards bought much of it and used it in the construction of their home in Breaux Bridge, which they built in 1999. No stolen materials were ever located at the Menard’s home, but several witnesses, most who admitted to smoking crack with Kyle Jones, said they saw Elridge Menard deliver cash to Jones at his home.
The State relied on those witnesses and an expert in construction who said that the Menard’s needed 150 more two-by-four studs to build their home than they had paid for from Cecelia Lumber.
The Menard’s attorney, Thomas Calogero of New Orleans, was able to have Jones admit under cross-examination that he had lied about many of the items that he allegedly delivered to the Menard’s, since his testimony contradicted his statements he made in 1999 and in court last year.
Calogero argued that Jones had no credibility since he only cooperated with police in order to maintain his freedom. Calogero also pointed out that while cooperating with St Martin detectives, he continued to steal and burglarize homes in Lafayette and St Martin , having been arrested at least 3 more times when found in possession of stolen materials. And despite having a previous criminal history, and having pled guilty to the thefts in 1990, Jones, an admitted crack addict, was still a free man awaiting his sentence, Calogero argued.
Prosecutor Robert Vines alleged that Racketeering was an appropriate charge because the Menard’s induced Jones to commit the thefts by placing orders for certain materials. But under cross-examination, by Calogero, Jones admitted that he was never asked by the Menard’s to steal from, or to burglarize any homes. The verdict of not guilty was reached in one hour. Kyle Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on the theft charges later this year by Judge Paul DeMahey.