Lengthy LA Legislative Report Indicates Possible Misuse of Public Funds by Former 42nd District Attorney

Lengthy LA Legislative Report Indicates Possible Misuse of Public Funds by Former 42nd District Attorney
Lengthy LA Legislative Report Indicates Possible Misuse of Public Funds by Former 42nd District Attorney
Lengthy LA Legislative Report Indicates Possible Misuse of Public Funds by Former 42nd District Attorney

The Louisiana Legislative Report, over 50 pages in length, found that the previous 42nd District Attorney, Gary V. Evans, may have used office funds for his lost election bid for re-election in 2020 for his campaign. In addition, Evans paid $14,400 for microbial fumigation services in the traffic diversion office, but no quotes or contracts for the service were in the office files.

The 2020 audit report also found that Evans requested $32,379 to pay several terminated employees for uncompensated tine and prior years’ vacation, but auditors could not locate adequate payroll records to support the payments, Additionally, the 2020 audit report found $300,000 was transferred from the Diversion Fund to the General Funds to cover operating expenses, specifically salaries. Another $800,000 transferred from a diversion fund into the general fund is also being questioned.

No detailed records were required or obtained for most of the salaries allocated to the traffic diversion program or victims’ assistance programs. The 2020 Audit report also found miscalculations of payroll taxes, violations of the Local Government Budget Act, and late submission of the audit report to the Legislative Auditor’s office.

The auditor singled out four areas where fraud or misappropriation may have occurred: the use of public funds for Evans’ campaign, the apparent donation of public funds to an individual, payroll fraud and misuse of diversion funds.

That’s according to an independent auditor’s review of his accounts performed when current District Attorney Charles Adams took office. The audit was publicly released Monday morning, September 19, 2022.

The possible misuse of public funds is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Louisiana State Police. Charles B. Adams, a retired DeSoto judge, soundly defeated Evans in a fall 2020 election and took office in January 2021. It took months for the audit to be completed and submitted to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office for review.

The auditor’s report explained that Evans lost the election in November 2020, with Adams taking over on Jan. 11, 2021. But on Jan. 4, 2021, Evans sent a letter to the DeSoto Parish Police Jury payroll clerk requesting payment of $18,761 for uncompensated time and prior years’ vacation for several employees who were terminated by Adams. There were no time sheets documenting the salaried employees worked the required time, the auditor said.

Evans also requested the same employees, terminated at the end of his term on Jan. 8, 2020, be paid for four weeks of vacation for 2021, including 10 days of vacation and 10 days of sick leave, at a cost of $13,618, even though they were only employed for one week in 2021.

Regarding the possible use of the district attorney funds for campaign, during the 2020 election year, invoices totaling almost $70,000 were paid to Evans’ campaign consultants, Rougarou Consulting. The invoices were paid from Feb. 7, 2020 to June 26, 2020 and recorded in the general fund as miscellaneous expenses.

The invoices were for professional services, digital/social media ad design, billboard ad design, Lamar billboard, digital/social media ads, radio ads for playoffs, mail production and mail postage.

According to Evans’ candidate report, filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, his campaign paid Rougarou Consulting $10,000 for political consulting on Jan. 21, 2020. Then from Feb. 7, 2020 through June 26, 2020, the district attorney’s office paid the company and other associated vendors $73,087.

Subsequent campaign disclosure reports revealed from July 20, 2020 through Nov. 3, 2020, Evans’ campaign paid Rougarou Consulting $87,465.

By comparison, during the first five years Evans was in office he spent less than $12,000 total – an average of $2,374 per year – on public service advertising.

State law prohibits an elected or appointed official using public funds in personal advertising. There are exceptions when the advertisements are related to the public function of the office.

The auditor said Evans used the donation of public funds to pay excessive costs for microbial fumigation services in the traffic diversion office. That office only had three employees and was not open to the public. It also had a regular housekeeper.

However, the auditor said a company called Upstream Environmental LLC was paid $14,400 from June 1, 2020 to Nov. 18, 2020. There were no quotes or contracts on file. The invoices also did not have dates for the service.

Additionally, rates on the invoices did not calculate correctly. A W-9 was not on file and Upstream Environmental would not provide one to Adams after he took office.

The money was paid to the company; however, an individual endorsed the checks. The name of that individual was not included in the auditor’s findings.

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