New details emerge over search warrant executed at DEQ building
BATON ROUGE- New details are emerging tonight about the search warrant executed by state investigators at an office at the Department of Environmental Quality.
A search warrant obtained by the Investigative Unit shows Vince Sagnibene was responsible for overseeing the money paid to a company that disposed tires. Investigators believe evidence was in that office that could be used in a malfeasance case. They removed numerous paper documents, ten legal note pads, and binders full of information.
All of the evidence taken relates back to the company, Environmental Industries Recycling or EIR. Mountains of shredded tires line the processing facility in Port Allen where tires are ground up before getting disposed in a land fill. At issue is the over payment to EIR in excess of three million dollars, according to court paperwork.
"If we determine probable cause exists to charge someone criminally, we will turn it over to prosecutors," Greg Phares with the State Inspector General's Office said.
The waste tire program was managed by Sagnibene until he resigned.
"It's three million dollars, and it's public money," Phares said. "Although not tax money, it's the money you and I pay when you go buy a set of tires and have to pay the disposal fee."
The over payments to EIR resulted from deliveries of waste tire material that exceeded the approved projects. The warrant goes on to say, "as the person responsible for oversight of the waste tire program, Sagnibene had an obligation to ensure that all payments to EIR were made in compliance with applicable law."
As Sagnibene remains under the microscope, state investigators aren't ruling out possible criminal charges.
"We're not ready to accuse anyone," Phares said. "We're certainly concerned that three million dollars went out the door, and we're trying to find out what was the justification."
The State Inspector General's Office says DEQ is cooperating with the investigation. If it's determined that Sagnibene didn't commit a crime, it would be up to the state to recoup the three million dollars they claim was overpaid.