Manager of Water System in Red River Parish Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge
SHREVEPORT, La. - Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that Donald Messick, 50, of Coushatta, Louisiana, appeared before Chief United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. today and pleaded guilty to fraud. A Bill of Information was filed April 23, 2021 in United States District Court charging Messick with one count of wire fraud.
The charge stems from a scheme devised by Messick to defraud the Fairview Union Water System (FUWS), an entity responsible for the management and upkeep of a rural water system in Red River Parish, Louisiana. During the scheme, Messick used FUWS monies to purchase items for his own personal use, including fuel, vehicle parts, tools, and other equipment. In some cases, he would use FUWS funds to purchase items that he would then give to relatives. In another instance, Messick had an electronic funds transfer sent from FUWS’s bank account to another individual located in Florida for her own personal use and did so without authorization from FUWS. Messick also fraudulently enrolled a relative in the group health insurance of FUWS, when that individual was not an employee and not authorized to be on the insurance plan. As a result, FUWS paid the premiums for this individual and the insurer paid out $19,705 in claims made on behalf of the unauthorized individual.
In total, from February 1, 2018 to March 1, 2019, Messick defrauded the FUWS out of approximately $58,459.73 in monies and property.
Messick faces a penalty of not more than 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Sentencing has been set for November 18, 2021.
The FBI and USDA-OIG conducted the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg is prosecuting the case.
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