Former DHH manager accused of laundering $100,000 from organizations and state
BATON ROUGE – A former DHH director was arrested Thursday, accused of using his position to defraud almost $100,000 from the state and local organizations through bribery.
Investigators with the Louisiana Department of Justice charged 52-year-old Curtis Mack with public bribery, malfeasance in office, theft, money laundering and criminal conspiracy.
His arrest warrant says Mack, a former Department of Health and Hospitals Program Manager, used a scheme to get kickbacks from grant recipients and launder the money.
The investigation began in early 2013 after an apartment complex operator came forward, saying he was being shaken down by Mack for a chunk of the federal grant money he received for housing drug addicts, mentally ill people and otherwise homeless people at his independent living facility.
The owner told the DOJ that Mack offered to funnel that money to him as long as he kept getting some of it back, the warrant said.
The man who ran the independent living facility said Mack had disguised as rent assistance for people living in the facility. The operator would then cash the check and give some money back to Mack.
The owner showed investigators a check from Mack for $4,025 that included the names of six individuals who lived at the owner’s complex.
Under the supervision of the DOJ, the owner cashed the check as well as another check for $5,175 and gave Mack $8,000.
During the investigations, agents learned that Mack directed funds through other "straw payees," the warrant says.
Former executive director of the Christian Outreach Center, Elaine Borskey, and Angel House owner Shonda Burns admitted that they participated in the scheme, according to the warrant.
Borskey told investigators that she received multiple checks ranging from $80-$100 disguised as rent assistance for people living in a facility that Mack actually owned.
Investigators learned that Borskey worked with Mack to funnel illegal payments through Christian Outreach, defrauding the center and the state of $22,685 for nearly two years between Sept. 2011 and July 2013.
Agents said Burns, like Borskey, also received rent assistance for residents who lived in Mack’s facility.
Burns said that most clients met their rent through personal funds and she pocketed the additional grant funds, according to her arrest warrant. Records show she received $46,988 in unlawful payments between April 2010 and March 2012. Mack received, at least, $12,850 in kickbacks from Burns.
Burns, 47, was booked along with Mack, on counts of public bribery and engaging in a criminal conspiracy.
In addition to the Christian Outreach and Angel House, investigators say Mack used other locations to receive $13,290 in kickbacks between March 2011 and February 2013.
On May 1, 2013, investigators spoke with Mack who said he gave money to the original apartment owner for rental repairs but said he did not receive money back, according to Mack's arrest warrant.
Two months later, investigators showed Mack the two checks issued to the owner. When confronted about whether he used DHH funds illegally, he ended the interview, the warrant says.
"When DHH became aware of possible concerns, Mr. Curtis Mack was placed on Leave beginning June 23,2014 - October 6, 2014 and subsequently, Dismissed October 7, 2014," a spokesperson for DHH said Thursday.
Two years later, the DOJ issued a warrant for the arrest of Mack Borskey and Burns. All three were arrested Thursday.