Lee Zurik Investigation: Big-spending LCDA director faces state scrutiny

Steve Dicharry
Steve Dicharry

The Louisiana inspector general is looking into a state agency, following a FOX 8 investigation – a case that one former police chief says made him sick.

Steve Dicharry is the executive director of the Louisiana Community Development Authority, a public agency based in Baton Rouge. It acts as a broker for local governments looking for infrastructure improvements.

You may recall Dicharry in our late-November report, dodging our questions on camera for almost a minute. We had hoped to talk with him about his charges on his public credit cards – we found that he charged tens of thousands of dollars on those cards for restaurant meals, condo stays, clothing, dental work and even cash withdrawals.

"It makes me sick," said Lynn Austin, marshal of Bossier City and a vice-president on the LCDA's board, basically Dicharry's boss. Austin is the former police chief in Bossier City, now the city marshal.

"If I was a district attorney, I'd call a grand jury," Austin told us.

In four and a half years, Dicharry spent $3,500 at Sam's Club, charging Charmin, Kleenex, a Hanes v-neck t-shirt, jeans, strawberries and chicken - to the public.

He charged $3,100 for air travel for a woman named Patricia Simmons, who Austin believes is Dicharry's girlfriend.

Dicharry used his public credit card to get a cash advance on nine separate occasions. Most of the time he took out 300 bucks; it added up to a total of $2,200.

Now the state's inspector general will ask the same questions we were asking when Dicharry fled our camera lens.

Greg Phares with the inspector general's office told us by phone, "As a result of the story, the OIG is looking into the matter."

It's a matter of tens of thousands of dollars in questionable credit card charges, made by a public official who already makes $148,000 a year.

"I'm totally upset with the whole damn thing," said Austin. "That's not the way I operate my business. I don't operate the Marshal's Office that way. And being a board member, it reflects back on me, and I take some of that responsibility as a board member, that I should have been more diligent."

Dicharry has already repaid about $15,000 in questionable purchases. The LCDA has another board meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.