- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana state troopers Wednesday arrested a seven-year employee of the state Department of Children and Family Services on theft and malfeasance charges.

In custody is Delrice J. Augustus, 34, of Baton Rouge. DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier said Augustus worked as the department’s director of audit and compliant services.

“I am shocked and saddened that a senior employee with DCFS would violate my trust, but more importantly the public trust through his alleged criminal actions,” Sonnier said.

Augustus is accused of illegally buying flat screen televisions, iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, a dishwasher and DVDs. During questioning, state police said Augustus admitted making fraudulent charges for personal use on his assistant’s assigned state credit card.

State police said a search of Augustus‘ home turned up about $7,500 worth of items purchased with the card. Investigators also seized about $18,000 in cash as evidence.

Augustus was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a charge of felony theft in excess of $500, 38 counts of illegal possession of stolen things and 38 counts of malfeasance in office. Bond information was not immediately available. Sonnier did not know whether he had an attorney.

Sonnier said both Augustus and his assistant, whose name was not released, have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending resolution of the case. “It’s the most aggressive thing we can do at this point,” she said.

Sonnier said an investigation began Tuesday after two questionable charges showed up on the LaCarte card. “We immediately called state police and the state inspector general,” she said. “We’ve also called in an independent auditor to do an additional review of our audit functions and staff.”

“It is hard to fathom how an audit director at a large state agency could engage in this sort of blatant theft, but that is exactly what happened here,” Inspector General Stephen Street said. “This case is particularly shocking because of the position of high trust that Mr. Augustus holds at DCFS.”

Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police thanked Sonnier’s staff and investigators with Street’s office for their cooperation throughout the investigation.

“It is incumbent upon all of us to work together in maintaining public trust and the integrity of our departments,” he said.

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