OIG: Walter Reed collected $52K for Causeway legal fees with no record of work performed

OIG: Walter Reed collected $52K for Causeway legal fees with no record of work performed

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - The Louisiana Office of the Inspector General released a report Monday accusing former north shore District Attorney Walter Reed of collecting $52,000 over a six-year-span for legal work that was never performed for the Causeway Commission.

A report released Monday morning by Stephen Street's office comes just after Reed was convicted on corruption charges.

Last week, a judge sentenced Reed to 48 months in prison after he was found guilty on 18 counts of public corruption charges.

The inspector general's report said it was discovered Reed was taking money from the Becknell Law Firm after Reed listed the funds on his state ethics disclosure form.

On the disclosure form, Reed claimed he was given the money by the Causeway Commission when in fact the payments were made by Becknell, who was at the time giving counsel to the Causeway Commission.

The report said Reed received 30 percent of the payments made to Becknell for the first three years and 20 percent for the next two years.

"We've got oversight and jurisdiction over the Causeway Commission," Street said. "In our view, this was a completely unacceptable situation where somebody is essentially getting 30 percent of legal fees in order to put their blessing on who is allowed to do the work. It's not right, and it's not something that we are going to sit back and not point out."

According to the OIG, J. William Becknell II admitted he paid Reed despite the former DA never doing work for the Causeway Commission.

Becknell told investigators former Causeway General Manager Robert Lambert told him over lunch "If you want the job, you need to talk to Walter." The report said no evidence showed current Causeway Commissioners nor General Manager Carlton Dufrechou knew about the payments made to Reed.

Becknell admitted paying Reed a percentage of his Causeway Commission billings and said that he issued IRS Form 1099 each year to Reed, according to the OIG's report.

Investigators said Becknell told Dufrechou and former Causeway Commission chair Michael Lorino "this is the way it was always done."

Reed's attorney, Rick Simmons, called the report "erroneous and outdated".

"The FBI looked at this years ago and did not make it a part of its case against Walter," Simmons said. "My client disclosed this and paid taxes on the money received...What they are doing is selecting certain witnesses and quoting them."

Simmons went on to say the OIG was "piling on" called the report "media assignation".

The Causeway Commission terminated its contract with Becknell when the payments to Reed came to light.

According to the report, Reed received the following payments:

  • $2,642.26 in 2008
  • $13,559.05 in 2009
  • $10,434.61 in 2010
  • $9,789.16 in 2011
  • $9,297.87 in 2013
  • $6,324.25 in 2014

The OIG turned investigation into Reed to the Jefferson Parish District Attorney as well as the U.S. Attorney's office.

Reed served as the district attorney in St. Tammany from 1985 to 2014.

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