A jailhouse electrician repeatedly allowed a state inmate to leave Orleans Parish Prison and visit a girlfriend’s house while the pair were supposed to be performing maintenance jobs. Court records filed last week showed that the electrician had admitted it weeks ago.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office booked the electrician, Gregory Jacques, on counts of malfeasance in office and being a principal to simple escape a few days after The New Orleans Advocate reported on the "escapades."
The prisoner, Wilbert J. Robinson, faces seven counts of simple escape. Jacques allegedly told authorities that he drove Robinson to the home on at least seven occasions.
According to a report this week from The Advocate, the timing of the arrests raised further questions about the Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the case. The agency received an anonymous tip about Robinson’s visits in early September. A day later, an investigator spotted a Sheriff’s Office vehicle at the girlfriend’s residence.
But internal records show the investigator was told not to take any further action at the time. The Sheriff’s Office did not question Jacques in the case until Nov. 6, more than two months after the initial tip.
Robinson, previously convicted of arson and armed robbery, had been serving a 20-year sentence in state custody but was transferred to Orleans Parish Prison in April 2012 to work on generators, a move the Sheriff’s Office said was intended to save taxpayer dollars. The prisoner did not qualify for work-release and was not paid.
Robinson would be checked out of the jail for 12 or more hours at a time, supposedly to perform maintenance tasks, internal records show. He would replace his orange prison garb with a blue Sheriff’s Office uniform.