Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl G. Purpera issued a stinging investigative audit Tuesday, March 1, outlining a number of state laws St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown may have violated over the past years.
The audit says Brown controlled the entire process for contracting services for the town, may have violated state law when contracting for services and received monies he may not have been entitled to received.
The 83-page report, including Browns’ comments on the charges, can be found on the Legislative Auditor’s website:
The Legislative Auditor’s Executive Summary follows:
-- MAYOR EDWARD BROWN APPEARED TO CONTROL THE ENTIRE CONTRACTING FOR SERVICES PROCESS TOWN OF ST. JOSEPH (TOWN):
Mayor Edward Brown contracted with his cousin, Mr. Bobby Conner, to perform a variety of construction and mechanical jobs for the Town, including demolishing dilapidated houses, repairing roads, fixing water leaks, and repairing equipment (e.g., lawn mowers, water pumps) since 2006. Based on the records provided, we observed that, from January 2009 to September 2014, the Town made 59 payments totaling $127,058 to Mr. Conner. Of these payments, 34 (58%) were missing invoices describing the work. When presented with the invoices the Mayor submitted to the Town, Mr. Conner was unable to explain the work he performed. In addition, Town records indicate that on five occasions from January through April 2009, the Town paid Mr. Conner a total of $9,000 for the rental of his personal dump truck. When questioned about the payments he received, Mr. Conner stated that he never rented his dump truck to the Town.
When asked if he issued Mr. Conner a 1099 Miscellaneous Income form, Mayor Brown stated that he did not. According to Mr. Conner, he did not report his earnings ($127,058) from the Town on any of his state and federal tax forms.
Because Mayor Brown failed to keep records necessary to substantiate that the work performed was equivalent to the amount of Town funds Mr. Conner was paid, Mayor Brown may have violated state laws. In addition, because Mr. Conner (1) could not explain the work he performed for the payment he received and (2) stated that he received $9,000 for services not performed, the Mayor and Mr. Conner may have violated state laws.
-- MAYOR BROWN MAY HAVE VIOLATED STATE LAW WHILE CONTRACTING FOR SERVICES:
From January 2013 to May 2014, the Town paid Mr. Bobby Conner a total of $41,950 from Louisiana Office of Community Development (OCD) grant funds. Louisiana Revised Statute (La. R.S.) 38:2241(A)(1) requires written contracts to be used for all public works projects that exceed $5,000 (except in instances where an emergency is deemed to exist) for the construction, alteration, or repair of public works. La. R.S. 38:2241(A)(2) requires contractors on public works projects in excess of $25,000 to provide a bond with good, solvent, and sufficient surety in a sum of not less than fifty percent of the contract price not later than 30 days after the work has begun. Both the bond and contract are to be filed with the Clerk of Court.
Since the Community Water Enrichment Fund and Louisiana Governor’s Assistance Program grants were for two specific public works improvements, the Mayor had an obligation to contract with Mr. Conner in writing and require Mr. Conner to provide a surety bond as required by state law. A review of Town records indicates that Mayor Brown did not enter into a written contract with Mr. Conner, nor did he require Mr. Conner to provide a surety bond.
Based on the above, it appears that Mayor Brown violated state law while contracting for services.
-- MAYOR BROWN RECEIVED MONIES HE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO RECEIVE:
From January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2014, Mayor Brown received $19,491.25 in monies it appears he was not entitled to receive. We found that Mayor Brown prepared his own expense reports, requests for travel advances, checks payable to himself, and recorded all financial transactions, during which time he received:
(1) a rental car for his son’s use;
(2) five travel advances that he owes the Town and one advance for non-public purposes;
(3) duplicate payments for travel expenses incurred;
(4) overpayments for travel expenses incurred;
(5) reimbursements for unsubstantiated out-of-town meetings; and
(6) non-public business travel
By receiving monies for expenses that he did not incur or for expenses that were incurred for personal purposes, Mayor Brown may have violated state laws.