Lee Zurik Investigation: Fired LCDA director imprisoned - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Lee Zurik Investigation: Fired LCDA director imprisoned

Steve Dicharry departs the LCDA meeting room as we arrive with questions about his public credit card expenditures in 2013 Steve Dicharry departs the LCDA meeting room as we arrive with questions about his public credit card expenditures in 2013

Late last year, Steve Dicharry ignored our questions.

His public credit card had tens of thousands of dollars of questionable charges at restaurants, at Sam's Club, even for airfare for his girlfriend. We found he took out cash advances on his public card on nine separate occasions.

At the time, Dicharry was 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.

Wednesday, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Dicharry. The warrant says "Dicharry converted public funds to his own use."

The inspector general's office says that's theft, confirming that "Dicharry used... credit cards for personal purchases and cash withdrawals." Specifically, the inspector general says Dicharry paid off a $41,846.38 car loan for a third person, unrelated to the agency. He "obtained 12,000 cash..." and "deposited the funds into his personal checking account." And he directed an agency employee to write a $3155.26 check payable to him.

The IG's office says Dicharry turned himself in at the East Baton Rouge Prison. In a statement, Chief Investigator Greg Phares writes, "Our investigation shows that Mr. Dicharry used and abused his position at LCDA for his personal benefit."

Shortly after our November story aired, the board fired Dicharry.

"I'm totally upset with the whole damn thing," said Lynn Austin a member of the LCDA board. "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."

It is possible Dicharry could face more charges. The board is conducting an audit of all business transactions. And if more wrongdoing is found, Dicharry could be answering more questions from law enforcement - questions that have gone unanswered for months.

 

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