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Fired truancy employees accused of theft, await court appearance

1 month 6 days 20 hours ago Thursday, February 20 2020 Feb 20, 2020 February 20, 2020 11:40 AM February 20, 2020 in News
Source: The Advocate

According to The Advocate, two former Baton Rouge truancy employees who were accused of felony theft are awaiting trial.

Roxson Welch, the executive director of the Family and Youth Service Center, said the center's receptionist, Rebecca Bonaventure ,worked with a maintenance worker, Hector Bautista, to steal the money.

The alleged theft began in February 2017 when Bonaventure started collecting a $200-a-month unauthorized pay raise. The next year, Bautista received a $500-a-month unauthorized pay raise. A total of $6,900 was paid to both of them before the unapproved raises were discovered.

A state audit later revealed that the two were responsible for stealing over $11,000.

>click here to view WBRZ's original article related to this audit<

Welch told The Advocate she found out that even though Bautista was married and Bonaventure was engaged, the two were seeing each other. 

"We're a small business here," Welch said. "So you can't really have a relationship like that because of the potential for conflicts." 

For this reason, Welch fired Bautista and Bonaventure on August 22.

But the very next day, Welch says the office received a strange email from Office Depot.

It said Bonaventure's gift card would be arriving soon.

Welch said, "'What gift card?' I thought. That started the whole thing."

Her suspicions piqued, Welch began scouring payroll and other records.

Welch's efforts revealed disturbing information, which she eventually turned over to the EBR Parish Sheriff's Office.

Deputies investigated the evidence against Bautista and Bonaventure and arrested the two on September 19.

They were seen in court on Feb. 13, where they pleaded not guilty. 

The case is unusual in that Rebecca Bonaventure is the niece of Kelly Bonaventure, the president of the nonprofit’s board of directors. Kelly Bonaventure’s day job is overseeing juvenile services for East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore's office.

Due to their familial relationship, DA Hillar Moore recused his office from the prosecution of the case and the state Attorney General's Office ended up taking it over. 

Moore acknowledged that the case has been shattering to the Bonaventure family, but credited the truancy center for its quick action.

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