NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The owners of a non-profit who were the subjects of a FOX 8 investigation went before a federal judge on Tuesday pleading not guilty to charges of conspiracy and theft.
Ricky Roberson; his wife, Ada Craig Roberson; and her mother, Melanie Duplechain operated Alternatives Living. They claimed to provide affordable housing to the elderly, homeless families and people suffering from mental disabilities. All were charged in a three-count indictment.
In November 2014, during a Lee Zurik investigation, it was found that the non-profit owed the IRS $1.3 million. At the same time, its officers spent tens of thousands of dollars on pricey meals, cars and trips, all out of the non-profits bank account.
"When it comes down to personal charges on the credit card, at our agency we are always working. Basically, we are on call 24/7," said Ricky Roberson.
Last year, the state's legislative auditor released a review of the non-profit, showing questionable spending.
In the wake of the indictment, the Department of Health and Hospitals announced it will begin taking steps to terminate Alternatives Living from the state Medicaid Program.
A federal magistrate set bond for each at $50,000. Trial is set for Aug. 29.