Ouachita Parish police jurors say they have a handful of unanswered questions for the director and auditors at G.B. Cooley Services in light of the arrest of the organization’s financial director for embezzlement of some $400,000.
Edward Everette Calloway, 40, of West Monroe, worked as G.B. Cooley Services’ financial director and recently turned himself in to authorities.
Calloway was charged with felony theft and false accounting. stemming from his admission to embezzling money from G.B. Cooley’s general fund to his personal account.
“I have some question as to how this happened,” said Police Juror Scotty Robinson during the Police Jury’s Nov. 18 meeting.
The embezzlement allegations were especially troubling because the Police Jury gave G.B. Cooley permission to incur $1.5 million in bonded indebtedness in September.
“I know you’re not going to stop a thief,” Robinson said. “There’s a director at Cooley. He should know how much comes in, how much goes out.”
Benjamin “Ben” Pitts is G.B. Cooley’s director. G.B. Cooley was created in 1962 as a component of the Police Jury, which appoints the seven members of the hospital district’s board of commissioners.
G.B. Cooley is a training facility that provides 24-hour care for individuals with mental disabilities. The hospital provides all basic needs for each individual, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological services and vocational training services.
Robinson asked Assistant District Attorney Jay Mitchell, who serves as the Police Jury’s legal counsel, to arrange a meeting with G.B. Cooley’s director and board.
“The Police Jury deserves an answer,” Robinson said. “Someone needs to be accountable for the money, and the lack of oversight and how it got taken.”
Police Juror Walt Caldwell seconded Robinson’s motion to arrange a meeting.
“I’m interested in who has been doing the audit,” said interim Police Juror Kay Katz. “They should be involved also.”
Sheriff’s investigators questioned Calloway during a recorded interview on Oct. 10.
Calloway began working at G.B. Cooley in 2009 as a staff accountant. By 2016, he became the organization’s financial director.
“Calloway confessed that in 2012 he began stealing money from the G.B. Cooley bank accounts by making ACH withdrawals to his personal bank account,” stated the warrant. “Calloway said in the beginning he transferred about 1 to 2 transactions a week in the amounts of $400 to $800. Then he said over time it grew to 2 to 3 times a week in the amounts of $1,400 to $1,900. He estimated during the entire period of the theft he stole $400,000.”
He recorded the transfers to look like payroll disbursements, he told investigators.
The revenues supporting G.B. Cooley’s general fund were provided through Medicaid funding and parish millage revenues.
“Calloway said that he was able to fool the company auditors for years because he was in charge of reconciling the bank records, knowledgeable in the financial software G.B. Cooley utilized and because he altered specific documents they requested,” stated the warrant. “He said that the auditors only requested a statement each year for the month of June. Calloway said he scanned that monthly statement into a PDF converter, deleted the ACH withdrawals that went to his bank ccount, then he shrank the PDF to hide the blank sections from the deleted transfers. He said he then deleted entries of revenue that was coming in to compensate for the shortage of money he stole.”
Calloway confessed to the crime because auditors had recently sent notice they would be requesting records. Calloway told investigators he was frightened he would finally get caught stealing.
Monroe attorney Cameron Murray is representing Calloway.