- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State education board member Walter Lee has reimbursed the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education an amount state auditors said he owed for improper payments received for travel and lodging over a three-year period.

BESE communications manager Kevin Calbert tells The Times (https://bit.ly/1sRqIdN ) Lee paid $13,073 on Sept. 15.

On the same date, BESE paid Lee for travel and per diem expenses that have been held since December. Calbert did not have the exact amount.

Lee did not want the payment to indicate either the state or auditors were “correct,” BESE Chairman Chas Roemer said. “But he didn’t want it to be in question.”

Roemer suspended Lee’s travel reimbursements while the restitution issue was disputed. But the recent payment cleared Lee to receive what had been held since December and submit requests for current reimbursements, Roemer said.

Roemer took action after the publication of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s investigative report into Lee’s alleged double-dipping. The probe, which followed the newspaper’s investigation, revealed Lee charged travel and hotel expenses related to his BESE service on the DeSoto Parish School Board’s credit card then failed to repay the district after being paid by BESE for the same invoices.

The audit’s findings - critical of Lee for billing BESE and school district for the same fuel, travel and lodging expenses, as well as improperly terminating a vehicle lease and receiving pay raises not correctly documented - was the basis for a grand jury investigation.

The panel in January indicted the veteran educator on felony theft, malfeasance and public contract fraud charges. Another grand jury in August indicted Lee on four misdemeanor theft counts.

District Attorney Richard Johnson was unaware of Lee’s restitution to BESE.

“I am pleased Mr. Lee had repaid the money that he owed BESE. However, his repayment has no effect on his pending criminal charges in DeSoto Parish,” Johnson said.

___

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

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide