From District Attorney Scott Perrilloux
Amite- District Attorney Scott M. Perrilloux reports that 69-year-old James Dukes, of Hammond, LA, was sentenced to three years with the department of corrections. The sentence was deferred and he was placed on probation for three years. He is ordered to pay restitution within two years.
James Dukes was found guilty of theft of $25,000.00 or more, theft of assets of aged persons over $1,500.00, and exploitation of the infirmed by Judge Winsberg in December 2019.
In October 2017, the victim reported that she entered into a Power of Attorney with James Dukes and he spent the majority of her life savings without her consent. She also stated that the money was not utilized for her wellbeing. The victim advised that she sought Mr. Dukes’s attorney services sometime prior to 2008 and they developed a friendship. When the victim’s health began to decline she signed a Power of Attorney and a living will on July 26, 2008.
The living will only appointed Dukes to make decisions as to the victim’s health. The power of attorney did state that “the appearer is concerned that she may for any reason of accident or injury become incapacitated or unable to properly attend to her business interest or affairs and other matters… She wishes to make provisions for her friend, James A. Dukes, to manage same in her absence and to the same extent as if she were present…” The victim advised that Dukes had been added as a signature to her Florida Parishes Bank account years prior to her noticing the missing funds.
In August 2017, the victim began noticing her funds being depleted from her bank accounts. She had her financial statements examined and the CPA concluded that approximately $266,000.00 was missing from her accounts.
The CPA provided detectives with the financial statements where earmarked with transfers and withdrawals made by Dukes without the victim’s consent. The CPA advised that the accounts the funds were being transferred into belong to James Dukes. Detectives then began to examine the financial documents provided by the victim and observed three different accounts for her with James Dukes listed on the accounts. Detectives observed that on September 2, 2015 a significant amount of money had been transferred to an unknown account which was signed by James Dukes and dated as the same date.
Detectives further observed numerous transfers to an account with the amounts being anywhere between tens of dollars to a couple hundred dollars. In a second account detectives observed several transfers of funds totaling $20,500.00. On January 21, 2016, a transfer of $150,000.00 was authorized by a checking withdrawal slip signed by James Dukes.
Detectives also observed checks drawn from the account signed by the victim up until November 17, 2015, and checks written by Dukes from the beginning of the financial documents to the end. Detectives observed that on November 21, 2016, an account was opened with a deposit of $150,000.00 which was transferred from the victim’s account. Approximately sixteen transfers ranging from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 with the majority of the transfers occurring before November 2016.
On September 28, 2017, detectives met with James Dukes at the Hammond Police Department for a formal interview regarding the incident. Dukes stated that at times he spent the money on himself and his family.
Dukes advised he was told by the victim that the money was his and he was included in her will he felt like he was spending “his” money. Dukes admitted to having intimate knowledge of the accounts and the victim’s finances and that he only opened one account with the victim’s money.
In Dukes’s statement to detectives he further admitted to spending $50,000.00 of the victim’s money for himself on bank stock in his name only. When asked by detectives why he didn’t include the victim on the accounts he opened for himself with her money he stated he did not want her to spend any of the money.
When asked if the victim knew about any of the accounts Dukes stated that she did not. Detectives calculated at least $186,000.00 transferred from the victim’s accounts into the accounts of James Dukes without her consent. After the transfers the victim had no access to the funds and by his own admission a majority of the funds were spent to benefit James Dukes or to deny the victim access to her funds.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Oubre represented the State of Louisiana with Judge Jerome Winsberg presiding.