Former Terrebonne Sheriff’s Detective Pleads Guilty to Theft of Federal Funds
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. announced that former Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) Detective DAWN C. FORET, age 38, of Houma, pled guilty today to a one count Bill of Information for theft of government funds.
According to the court documents, FORET was charged for improperly overbilling a federally funded law enforcement grant designed to curb underage drinking known as the Juvenile Underage Drinking Enforcement Grant (“JUDE”) for the years 2009 through 2012. The JUDE Grant was funded by the United States Department of Transportation to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, which also administered the grant. After receiving the approval to access the grant funds in October of 2009, the TPSO appointed FORET to administer the grant with regards to recruiting volunteers for the overtime work, determining the operations plan, and then writing up the reports from the evening’s work. In sum, this law enforcement grant paid overtime hours for officers to investigate bars and convenience stores to see if they were illegally providing alcohol to minors.
The focus of the inquiry concerned FORET’s billing of the JUDE grant in the fall of 2010. Starting on November 6, 2010, FORET began including herself in the TPSO police reports/narratives that followed each JUDE operation in a way that suggested that FORET was physically participating in each operation. From that point on, FORET inserted herself into practically every TPSO JUDE grant narrative as being present and she billed for every hour of operation as the other TPSO officers who did the work. In fact, FORET billed for the full time even if the evening’s operation resulted in no summons being issued and the report was essentially a page or two in length. From November 6, 2010, through the end of the grant on July 18, 2012, TPSO conducted 130 JUDE grant overtime operations and FORET’s name appeared on every single police report except for six occasions. FORET admitted in the factual basis that she did not in fact physically participate in any of the JUDE grant operations from November 6, 2010 until the grant expired in July of 2012. The total loss to the grant is $14,728.00.
“Detective Foret was sworn to uphold the law,” stated U.S. Attorney Polite. “Instead, she violated that oath by stealing federal funds intended to reduce underage drinking in our community. Today’s guilty plea ensures that she is held accountable for her criminal actions.”
FORET faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, up to three year of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and $100.00 special assessment. U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance set sentencing for December 14, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Bill McSherry were in charge of the prosecution.