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FORMER OPELOUSAS HOUSING AUTHORITY EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO WIRE FRAUD CONSPIRACY CHARGE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013

LAFAYETTE, La. United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Garnette L. Thomas, 75, of San Augustine, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Thomas was employed as the Opelousas Housing Authority grant and capital funds coordinator from 2005 to 2009. From 2007 to 2009, Thomas admitted that she conspired with other unnamed conspirators to send and receive fake bids by email in order to circumvent state and federal bid laws. They used the fake bids to make it appear that several companies were placing bids on construction projects, but in fact, there was one company being considered. Thomas, assisted by others, accomplished this by using letterhead and other information to create fake bid documents from other companies who were not placing bids on the contracts. These fake bids were then filed so records showed that more than one company had bid on the projects.

Thomas faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and restitution for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  A sentencing date of January 10, 2014 was set.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly P. Uebinger is prosecuting the case.


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