- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

MANSFIELD, La. (AP) - A new court date has been set for a state education board member accused of stealing public funds through double-dipping.

The Times reports (https://bit.ly/ZVExgh ) Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee will be in a DeSoto Parish courtroom Dec. 10. The date was set last week during a pretrial hearing held since Lee’s indictment and arrest in January. District Attorney Richard Johnson says the new court date is due to new charges that were filed in early September.

Lee, who retired as DeSoto Schools superintendent in 2012, was already charged with felony theft, public contract fraud and malfeasance. Four additional counts of misdemeanor theft were added last month.

All of the charges stem from an investigation into expense and reimbursement irregularities outlined in a state audit and mirrors an investigation by The Times early last year on Lee’s spending and financial decision-making over the last three years of his contracted employment with the DeSoto Parish School Board.

“There are no serious plea discussions going on,” Johnson said when asked if there was any other movement in the case.

Likewise, Lee’s attorney, Taylor Townsend of Natchitoches, said there are no plea talks. “Why would an innocent man plead guilty?” he asked.

Lee, who celebrated his 80th birthday Oct. 5, is accused of billing the School Board and the BESE for the same fuel and lodging expenses. He’s also accused of personally benefiting from the return of the leased vehicle and intentionally performing his duties as superintendent in an unlawful manner.

Lee, of Shreveport, continues to serve as an elected member of BESE. A felony conviction will require his resignation from BESE.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com

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