News and Press Releases

Dignam Sentencing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2012

FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA GOVERNOR’S PROGRAM ON ABSTINENCE SENTENCED TO SERVE 70 MONTHS IN PRISON

BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced today that United States District Judge James J. Brady sentenced Gail Ray Dignam, age 64, currently of Diamondhead, Mississippi, and formerly of Baton Rouge, to seventy (70) months in prison, to pay restitution, and to a year of supervised release after imprisonment.

Today’s sentencing follows a three-day jury trial in October of 2011, at which the defendant was convicted of two counts of mail fraud. The case arose from a fraudulent scheme that the defendant executed from 2004 through 2006 while she served as Director of the Louisiana Governor’s Program on Abstinence (GPA). The evidence presented at trial showed that the defendant used her position at the GPA to execute fraudulent contracts between the GPA and a contractor. The defendant then prepared and approved fraudulent invoices totaling more than $50,000, which funds the defendant directed to bank accounts in Louisiana and Utah that she and other members of her family controlled. The evidence presented at trial also showed that the defendant had previously used her positions at two other not-for-profit and/or charitable organizations to defraud such organizations out of more than $330,000, which the defendant routed to members of her family and companies that she and her family members controlled.

The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. stated, “Today’s sentence sends a strong signal to those who occupy positions of public trust that they may not use their positions to line their pockets and unlawfully divert public funds to themselves and their family members. Our office, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue corruption wherever it is found.”

“Today's sentence finalizes one of the most interesting investigations conducted in our area. Ms. Dignam has left a path of corruption and deceit across our country,” said William W. Root, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge for the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Ms. Dignam took advantage of charities and DHHS grants to serve her own self interests, and America is tired of the fraud, waste and abuse of their tax dollars,” said Root.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge David Welker stated, “As always, when a public servant seeks to enrich themselves at the expense of the public they serve, the true victims are the citizens who cannot take advantage of the program which was defrauded!”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alan A. Stevens and United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr.

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