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Press Release

Retired Colonel in Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet announced that ROY AUSTIN, 69, of St. Tammany Parish and a retired Colonel of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (“OPSO”), was charged today in a one-count Bill of Information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the Bill of Information, beginning in 2009 and continuing until January 2014, AUSTIN and others participated in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  The Bill of Information alleges that AUSTIN, in his role as a Colonel in the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, arranged for security details through a private company (Austin Sales and Service) for local entities and events, including Mardi Gras Krewes, music and food festivals, and sporting events, engaged in a scheme to defraud those local entities and events by padding the billing documents with names of individuals who did not in fact provide any security services (“Ghost Employees”). 

Additionally, after submitting the fraudulently inflated invoices via interstate wires, AUSTIN kept a portion of the overbilled amount in the Austin Sales and Service corporate bank account for his own personal use.  In some instances, AUSTIN drafted Austin Sales and Service corporate checks made payable to the Ghost Employees who did not work and then fraudulently endorsed those checks and deposited them into his personal bank account for his own personal use.  AUSTIN often also drafted checks made payable to other OPSO employee(s)’ family members under the fraudulent guise of payments for detail work that in fact did not take place as those employee(s)’ share of the fraudulently collected funds.

If convicted of conspiring with others to commit wire fraud, AUSTIN faces statutory penalties of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The Bill of Information also contains Notice of Forfeiture which puts the defendant on notice that the Government intends on forfeiting any and all property and profits concerned with and/or derived from any illegal activity referenced in the bill of information.

U. S. Attorney Polite reiterated that the Bill of Information describes allegations and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter and would also like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the Louisiana Legislative Auditors.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Toomey is in charge of the prosecution.


Updated March 25, 2016

Financial Fraud