5 arrested after work program inmate found working for family business
RACELAND - Deputies have arrested five people after it was discovered that a work program inmate had spent more than two months working for a family business instead of his assigned employer.
According to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office, 36-year-old Anthony Gambino III had been reporting to his mother’s house in Raceland and working for his family’s produce business instead of Schlumbrecht Electric in Waggaman, which was his assigned job site.
Investigators discovered phone calls made at the LPSO facility in which Gambino spoke about the business to his mother, 60-year-old Bonnie Gambino, and his girlfriend, 33-year-old Jessica Matherne.
On Thursday, 38-year-old Merlyn Maury III picked up Gambino from the Transitional Work Program facility and brought him to his mother's home. Gambino was taken into custody and the pair was questioned about the incident.
During questioning, Gambino told investigators that he had made a request to the Louisiana Department of Corrections to work for the family business. Due to such employment being prohibited by the State, he was denied, but he decided to work for the business illegally.
The inmate reportedly worked out an agreement with Robert Schlumbrecht, owner of Schlumbrecht Electric, to work for the family business instead of reporting to work. Schlumbrecht, a childhood friend of the inmate, agreed to continue to provide paychecks in exchange for cash to maintain the appearance that Gambino was still employed by the company.
Since beginning his employment there in August 2016, an employee of Schlumbrecht Electric transported inmate Gambino to and from the job site. When inmate Gambino stopped reporting to that job, Maury, an employee of the produce business, began transporting him to and from the LPSO facility each day.
Maury, an employee of the produce business, began transporting him to and from the LPSO facility each day. Maury falsely identified himself as an employee of Schlembrecht Electric to LPSO officers.
Investigators found 72 instances in which Gambino did not report to the work site as assigned, and they learned that all aforementioned parties were aware that Gambino was illegally working for the produce business. Investigators then obtained warrants for all five individuals.
“This was more than a just a simple case of an inmate not showing up for work,” said Sheriff Craig Webre. “This was an elaborate scheme wherein multiple parties were committed to defrauding the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office and the State of Louisiana, and they were charged accordingly.”
Gambino was booked with Conspiracy to commit Simple Escape and 72 counts of Simple Escape. His bond on the charges was set at $149,000, and he is being held for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. He was serving time for a manslaughter conviction in April 2003.
He was assigned to the Transitional Work Program in March 2015, and his scheduled release date was April 11, 2018.
Merlyn Maury III was booked with Conspiracy to commit Simple Escape and 72 counts of Principle to Simple Escape.
Bonnie Gambino and Jessica Matherne were arrested Friday and booked with 72 counts of Principal to Simple Escape. Bonds were set at $72,000 each, but Judge Walter L. Lanier III ordered each to be released on personal recognizance.
Robert Schlembrecht surrendered to authorities on Saturday and he was booked with one count of Conspiracy to commit Simple Escape. He was subsequently released after posting $5,000 bond.