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December 12, 2013

LAFAYETTE, La. United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Dr. Marvette J. Thomas, 60, of Grambling, La., and Carra Sergeant, 60, of Ragley, La., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote to 14 months and 12 months in prison respectively for theft of government funds. They were also ordered to pay $159,167 in restitution.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Thomas served as Director of the Office of Academic Assistance, and Sergeant served as Assistant Director of Academic Assistance at Louisiana State University at Eunice (LSUE).  From September 1, 2008 until February 28, 2012, Thomas and Sergeant used their positions to take funds from federal grants meant for the Upward Bound and Student Support Services projects, which are designed to assist students in their education efforts and goals. They used grant funds for their personal benefit and attempted to cover up their activities by altering receipts and submitting false records.

Thomas and Sergeant admitted to buying clothes, shoes, handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, personal electronic devices, cookware, tools, toys, recreational vehicle parts, pet supplies, household items, outdoor items, exercise equipment, religious books, and gifts for family, friends and co-workers. LSU auditors, U.S. Department of Education/Office of Inspector General, and the FBI estimate that Thomas spent at least $68,464 and Sergeant $74,653. Additionally, they allowed and encouraged subordinate co-workers to make personal purchases as well.  The co-workers’ purchases total $16,050. A total of $159,167 was illegally spent under Thomas and Sergeant’s watch.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Education/Office of Inspector General, and Louisiana State University auditors conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie is prosecuting the case.

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