A founding member of the “Cajun Navy 2016” group has been arrested after he allegedly took thousands from a Baton Rouge flood victim and never finished work he agreed to, according to reports.
WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge reports that Jon Bridgers was booked on charges of contractor fraud. The report, citing the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, says a victim hired Bridgers in October 2016 and over several months paid $51,000 for work that was never completed.
WBRZ reports the sheriff’s office tried to facilitate a way for Bridgers to reimburse the victim but those plans fell apart after he allegedly missed a deadline. The report also says Bridgers was not a licensed contractor and claimed he didn’t realize he needed a license for the projects he was hired to do.
Bridgers was one of President Donald Trump’s special guests at the president’s first State of the Union Address earlier this year. The White House praised Bridgers and his group “Cajun Navy 2016” for helping collect resources and donations for flood victims after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Bridgers released the following statement Thursday evening:
"My entire life I’ve built a reputation of being a man of my word. The reports you read in the media are NOT telling the whole story. Let me be clear: I did not defraud anyone.
The situation at hand is the result of miscommunication, not fraud. I attempted to amicably resolve what is a contractual dispute.
Since August of 2016 I have humbly sacrificed countless hours helping neighbors and communities in need whether in Louisiana, Texas or Florida. The Cajun Navy is a nationwide movement and I’m proud to play a small part.
My focus remains on the work the Cajun Navy is doing every day to be prepared to respond to the next disaster, wherever it may be. Your prayers are appreciated."