Louisiana Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Landry continues crackdown on public corruption

By Robert Creenan | Sep 18, 2016

BATON ROUGE – Leigh Ann Ingram, a former utility clerk in Jonesville, Louisiana, recently became the latest public employee ensnared in Attorney General Jeff Landry's crackdown on the alleged misuse of public funds. 

Ingram was charged last month with theft, malfeasance in office and computer fraud.

“Ingram is accused of diverting over $25,000 worth of utility payments and falsifying computer records to avoid getting caught," Ruth Wisher, Landry's press secretary, told the Louisiana Record. "She allegedly received cash from customers paying their electricity bills and diverted the funds for personal use.” 

Given Louisiana's long and arduous history with public corruption, Ingram's arrest and others like it send the clear message that Landry is determined to clean up the state's image. 

“In order to make our state an even better place, we must end Louisiana’ checkered past of public corruption and abuse of government offices,” Landry's office said in a press release.

In February, six public workers were arrested as part of the ongoing investigation by Landry's office of an alleged bribery scheme involving the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office under former District Attorney Mike Harson.  Robert Williamson, a former private investigator, is already in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of public bribery, corrupt influencing, filing false public records and criminal conspiracy related to the case. 

Others arrested in the case include Kevin Ozene, a Lafayette Parish deputy clerk of court; defense attorneys Christopher Luke Edwards and Dan Kennison; Justina Ina, a probation officer; Kenneth Franques Sr., a deputy city marshal; and Joy Trahan, manager of the Lafayette branch of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. All face allegations of malfeasance, public bribery, injuring public records and criminal conspiracy.

In March, Curtis Mack, a former member of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, was accused by Landry's office of using deferral grant payments to help run an independent living facility he operated. Shoanda Burns, the owner of the Angel House independent living facility, and Elaine Borskey, the executive director of Christian Outreach Center in Baton Rouge, allegedly helped deposit the grant checks to Mack, which amounted to $92,173.

More recently, John Joseph Landry III, formerly of the St. Charles Parish Hospital Board, was charged by Landry's office with four counts of falsifying public records and four counts of conspiracy to file false public records in June. These charges are related to the prosecution of the parish’s former district attorney, Harry Morel, who was sentenced to three years in federal prison for sexual misconduct.

All the investigations were conducted with the help of the FBI, and state and local law enforcement agencies.

“Attorney General Jeff Landry has vowed to fight public corruption as part of his new administration,” Wisher said. “He has implemented a strong partnership with the FBI, and other state and local law enforcement agencies to accomplish the goal.” 

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