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Audit reveals EBR Housing Authority used public money on parties, prizes for employees

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BATON ROUGE - According to an audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office, the Housing Authority of East Baton Rouge Parish may have used nearly $9,000 of public money illegally.

The 18-page audit was released early Monday morning. Findings cover just over three years of documentation from October 2014 to December of last year. 

According to the report, $5,200 of the possibly misused money was spent on meals and office celebrations which included an employee picnic and an annual Christmas party. The remaining $3,600 went toward gift cards for employees as presents and prizes. The audit also says that the former Housing Authority CEO Richard Murray, as well as COO Melonie Bayham, were unaware that spending public funds on these events was improper.

The EBRPHA released a statement from acting Chief Executive Officer J. Wesley Daniels, Jr. late Monday morning, saying changes were coming to the organization.

“Our organization, humbly, thanks the Legislative Auditor’s Office for its diligent efforts that will result in greater oversight, increased controls and revised policies for EBRPHA. Going forward, EBRPHA will strictly comply with Article VII, Section 14 since the state auditor brought the oversight to our attention," Daniels said in the statement.

Two years ago, the Housing Authority hired an outside firm to conduct a separate audit after it was released that Murray and Bayham had been paid tens of thousands of dollars more than their approved salaries. The two later reimbursed the Authority for that money. 

Click here to the full report.

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