USS Kidd sinking in debt
BATON ROUGE - The USS Kidd has become the target of a state investigation, and records show the former destroyer is sinking in debt.
The ship owes $334,440 in unpaid insurance premiums to the state, according to documents obatined by the News 2 Investigative Unit. Louisiana Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. also confirmed his office is investigating the former destroyer.
Administrators at the Kidd say the IG is reviewing finances and questionable spending by the ship's former executive director, Maury Drummond, who stepped down in November.
"(The Inspector General is) looking at reimbursements that were given to Mr. Drummond and Mrs. Drummond for several different reasons, and that is part of what's being reviewed," current executive director Alex Juan said.
Those spending habits were revealed in a News 2 investigation last year. The report uncovered several thousand dollars worth of purchases and reimbursements that did not have detailed receipts to back them up.
Juan's turned over paperwork indicating dozens of purchases where Drummond paid himself.
"You typically don't reimburse yourself," Juan said.
The amount in question is more than $28,000 spent in a three year span. The Naval War Commission oversees the Kidd's operations, but those commissioners and Juan were unaware of any problems.
"It's eye-opening for me to bring these things to light," Juan said.
Juan also found the ship was not always paying its bills. For years, the Kidd's risk management insurance premium was not getting paid in full, which led to the mounting debt.
The state's division of administration is aware of the insurance bill, but declined to comment for this story. The agency will wait first for the Kidd's commissioners to come up with a plan to shore up its finances.
"It's just a matter of fact. This is what it is, and... they are more than willing to work with us on a payment plan, and certainly we have several different sponsors that we are talking to," Juan said. "We know we have to spend $100,000 to repaint the haul of the ship. Well, maybe that money can be sponsored, and that money could be allocated to pay down the debt that is owed."
The Inspector General's Office is also looking at donations the Kidd made to other non-profit organizations including a donation made to Drummond's wife.
"I'm committed to making sure that every penny is done for the benefit of keeping this place afloat," Juan said.
The Kidd is funded through East Baton Rouge City Parish tax dollars, donations and ticket sales to board the ship.
The inspector general would not give a timetable to when their investigation will be completed. Street said he was asked to start the review, but would not say who made the initial complaint.