Lawyer Guilty of Mail Fraud
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced that RANDY P. ZINNA, 53, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty in October 2010 before Chief Judge Ralph E. Tyson to mail fraud.
As a result of his guilty plea, ZINNA faces a maximum sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment, over $2 million in fines, or both.
In pleading guilty, ZINNA agreed to the following facts. ZINNA, who was an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana, represented the Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System of Louisiana (MPERS), which was a retirement system established by the Louisiana Legislature to provide retirement and other benefits for employees of municipal police departments. MPERS, through a wholly owned subsidiary named Olde Oaks Development, LLC, owned, for investment purposes, a real estate development known as Olde Oaks Subdivision in Bossier City, Louisiana. ZINNA served as manager of Olde Oaks Development. From 2002 through 2009, ZINNA deposited into his law office escrow account Olde Oaks Development checks made payable to contractors of Olde Oaks Development on invoices then due and owing to the contractors, more than $850,000 in proceeds from the sale of lots in Olde Oaks Subdivision, and over $2,000,000 in MPERS funds. Although some of the monies were eventually remitted to the intended recipients, ZINNA retained some of the funds and used them for his personal benefit. In 2009, defendant ZINNA obtained three checks totaling $570,000 from an 83-year-old widow with the understanding that the funds would be invested for her benefit. Instead, defendant ZINNA used the funds for his own personal benefit, primarily to re-pay Olde Oaks Development for lot sales proceeds which had been deposited into his escrow account and used for his personal benefit.
In a signed plea agreement, ZINNA has agreed to make restitution of over $1,000,000 to the victims of the scheme. In addition, ZINNA has agreed to make restitution of over $340,000 to the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Employees’ Retirement System.
Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented, “This guilty plea shows what can be accomplished when state agencies such as the Legislative Auditor, Attorney General and Inspector General work together with the FBI and United States Attorney. From day one, this was a true team effort that helped to uncover the brazen theft of more than 1.5 million
dollars. I want to express my thanks to Mr. Cazayoux, former U.S. Attorney David Dugas, and AUSA Patricia Jones.”
“I want to commend the investigative efforts of the Louisiana Inspector General’s Office, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through the leadership of Inspector General Street and the whole investigative team, we were able to prosecute this man who first betrayed the trust of his client, MPERS, and the public in general by stealing from the pension fund he represented. His efforts to cover up his crime by stealing from another client, an elderly widow, make his actions all the more reprehensible. We will not tolerate this behavior and will continue to make prosecuting crimes involving the breach of the public trust a priority.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney M. Patricia Jones.
If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org