Minister under investigation for defrauding Social Security recipients
BATON ROUGE - A pastor is under investigation for the way he runs an apartment complex which houses people with mental disabilities.
Reginald Stewman faces possible jail time for IRS fraud, the Social Security Administration is looking into his business practices, and now the state is investigating if he's legally housing his tennants.
Last year, a company Stewman owns, rented an apartment complex on Van Gogh Drive in Baton Rouge. Documents obtained by News 2 from the Secretary of State's Office, show he was a director of a non-profit "Indigent Partial Hospitalization."
Dozens of tenants lived in the complex up until Monday, and one resident told News 2 how Stewman handled expenses.
"I give him (Stewman) my check (Social Security) and he pays rents and buys me cigarettes and gives me an allowance," said tenant John Thore.
Court documents show Stewman's company stopped paying the owner of the apartments rent, saying they needed a major renovation. They also show the rent bill exceeds $100,000.
Stewman said he couldn't have people living in a place with unsuitable conditions.
"I am required to make sure that people who are living in a housing arrangement live the same way I do. They refused to fix the property, we refused to pay them," he told News 2.
Last week, his company filed bankruptcy in connection with the dispute. He owes the apartment's owner, Entergy, and another business, while the IRS wants $24,000 in back taxes from the company. Stewman himself was also indicted last year for falsifying an IRS document, and owes $200,000 in unpaid taxes. He pleaded guilty to that charge and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Meanwhile, the Adult Protection Services division of the Department of Health and Hospitals is looking into how the company handled the people under their care. They confirmed to News 2 there are open complaints they are investigating against the company, but would not elaborate any further.
Stewman said he moved 36 residents into another complex Monday night, so they have a place to stay while the various investigations continue.