Lee Zurik Investigation: Auditor releases scathing report on Hingle - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Lee Zurik Investigation: Auditor releases scathing report on Hingle

Updated:
The state's legislative auditor comes down hard on former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle.

The findings have been laid out in an audit that's expected to be released later this month.

FOX 8 News has a copy of a draft audit that shows widespread abuse by the former sheriff, who will be headed to federal prison next year.

The report goes into great detail about improper expenditures by Hingle through his campaign and his office.

We detailed those findings in a series of reports beginning last spring. Last month, Hingle pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently spending about $150,000 out of his campaign fund.

According to the legislative auditor, Hingle recorded a total of $386,000 as expenses on his campaign finance reports -- expenses the auditor says appear to be paid by the Sheriff's Office. That means, the auditor claims, Hingle illegally spent almost $400,000 of campaign money.

But there's more.

The auditor also notes an additional $332,000 of improper expenses -- this time, through the Sheriff's Office.

Those expenses include the publication of a pricey annual report and payments toward a promotional video for the wetlands, detailed in a FOX 8 News story last spring. The auditor concludes, “This purpose appears to fall outside the law enforcement mission."

The 17-page audit also details another $17,000 that Hingle may have illegally received from his office. Most involved travel reimbursements that Hingle didn't deserve.

For example, in 2009, Hingle reimbursed himself for a $950 registration fee for a convention. When the auditor contacted representatives for that convention, they found that no registration fees were collected.

Also in 2009, the sheriff reimbursed himself $3700 for a street crimes seminar in New Mexico that he attended with another employee, Major Brandon Mouriz.

The office reimbursed Hingle for hotels, registration and meals at the convention. But Hingle and Mouriz never attended this conference -- the auditor says all $3700 were improperly spent.

And the auditor questioned $7 million in payments to a company, Fleet Intermodal, owned by Darren Angelo. Hingle and Angelo are business partners in a marina, so that business relationship -- combined with Hingle giving him work totaling $7 million -- may violate state law.

The Metropolitan Crime Commission asked the auditor to look into the sheriff office last spring.
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