Audit finds more than $75,000 in fees diverted from Tangipahoa landfill

Audit finds more than $75,000 in fees diverted from Tangipahoa landfill

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WVUE) - An investigative audit, launched by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office, found over $75,000 in fees from the Tangipahoa Parish landfill were diverted from public coffers.

Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller said the audit revealed proceeds from the sale of scrap metal at the landfill, totaling over $28,000, and nearly $50,000 in dumping fees were owed to the parish.

The audit found that former Tangipahoa Parish Landfill Manager Terrance Stewart received $18,533 from the sale of scrap metal that should have gone to the parish. The audit also says Stewart allowed a contractor to dispose of roofing debris without paying the required fees.

The audit also found Stewart allowed a contractor to dispose of roofing debris at the landfill without paying the required fees.

Records show $49,330 was not collected. A contractor told investigators he paid Stewart a reduced fee in cash instead of paying the required fee to the parish.

Stewart may have violated state law by not charging the required fees and may have accepted cash payments from a contractor that were not deposited into parish accounts.

Investigators have been monitoring Stewart for more than three years, documenting activity between Stewart and the identified contractors.

Miller said that during the 2016 routine audit of parish finances, his office became aware of financial discrepancies.

"As soon as our office was made aware of these discrepancies, we placed Mr. Stewart on administrative leave," Miller said. In addition, Miller said during TPG's internal investigation into the matter that Stewart was stripped of his keys to the landfill, his parish-owned vehicle, and access to any other parish assets. Miller added that he also made the Tangipahoa Parish Council aware of the situation.

"Together, the administration, the Council, and our auditor Laura White made the necessary contacts with the Legislative Auditor's Office, who simultaneously began their own investigation into the matter," Miller said.

New procedures were also implemented by the parish. They include internal controls which will oversee the collection of receipts for scrap metal and billing for landfill users. The parish has also performed a total reorganization of the landfill which includes, instead of a single manager, an administrative director, and operations director. They will segregate those duties and make each accountable to the Public Works Director, who will oversee the landfill as opposed to having it as a separate and stand-alone arm of Parish Government.

Miller is also asking Tangipahoa Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux pursue criminal charges in the case.

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