Arrest warrant issued for former state lawmaker

Former State Representative Sherman Copelin
Former State Representative Sherman Copelin

An arrest warrant has been issued for former La. Representative Sherman Copelin.

Copelin has been the subject of many FOX 8 investigations. In 2011, we first told you about allegations against the former state representative. Several sub-contractors say they were stiffed by Copelin after his company hired them to rebuild a West Bank school after Katrina.

Lyle Doublet is one of those sub-contractors.  He explains, "We signed a contract in '08. I remember it being very hot, July when we poured the slab for the school. And then all of a sudden he said he couldn't make payment."

Doublet says he's owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by Copelin.

Copelin, who represented New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward from 1986 through 1999, is the only registered agent and officer of the Recovery Development Group. His company was hired by the Westbank Christian Center in Harvey to rebuild the school using FEMA money. But a legislative audit revealed the money was misused.

In 2011, upset he wasn't being paid, Doublet turned to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. Last week, the sheriff's office issued a warrant for Copelin's arrest. He faces two charges: contractor fraud and misapplication of payments and theft.

Doublet reacted to the news by saying, "I'm just thrilled that something is being done that they're absolutely going to go after him. The warrant has been issued and I'm just happy, very happy."

We went to Copelin's house Tuesday night to ask him if he knew of the arrest warrant. He said he didn't know about it. A spokesman for the sheriff's office says it's possible Copelin wasn't yet served with the warrant.

We also questioned Copelin about the allegations, dating back two years from Doublet and others.  He had little to say.

"I'm not avoiding you, I don't know anything about it," Copelin told us.

Doublet says his life was destroyed by Copelin because of the thousands of dollars he lost on the construction project. "I'm talking no electricity. I was running my house on a generator. All my personal cash came out of my pocket into that project and when he didn't pay, I had to pay my creditors. All my supply houses calling, hey man, where's my money, where's my money?" Doublet explained.

Now Doublet is slowly putting his life back together and he wants Copelin to be held responsible if he's found guilty of the charges against him.

A spokesperson for Copelin says he's expected to release a statement Wednesday addressing this issue.