Search warrant issued to check state office in possible malfeasance investigation
BATON ROUGE – A state investigator searched the office of a former government official Thursday in relation to possible malfeasance in office.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained the search warrant signed by 19th JDC Judge Beau Higginbotham. The order gave a criminal investigator with the Louisiana Office of State Inspector General the authority to search the executive office of former DEQ undersecretary Vince Sagnibene. Sagnibene resigned in April amid controversy over overpayments made to a company hired to handle tire recycling.
Auditors believe DEQ overpaid Environmental Industries Recycling, Inc. (EIR) of Port Allen more than $3 million between April 2008 and November 2013. Investigators are looking to see how much Sagnibene knew of overpayments and if he communicated with anyone about the overpayments.
The overpayments involve deliveries of waste tire material to the Tangipahoa Parish Landfill. The landfill is under the microscope for how it uses shredded tires and if the program has met DEQ approval.
Investigators searched Sagnibene's old office on the 9th floor of the Galvez Building, a state office complex in downtown, for digital storage devices and paperwork. The investigator handling the case reported to the court he left with numerous paper documents following an early morning search Thursday.
The OIG started looking into the tire program in partnership with the FBI in April 2014.
DEQ said Friday it did not wish to comment on the situation. Sagnibene's phone number is unlisted and he could not be reached for comment for this story.
Check back for updates.
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