Former OLOL Foundation head arrives at court for first hearing in embezzlement case
UPDATE: John Paul Funes has pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and wire fraud.
BATON ROUGE - The fired president of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, John Paul Funes, was charged in federal court Tuesday for allegedly defrauding the organization of more than half a million dollars.
The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that the former head of the hospital's fundraising arm was charged with wire fraud and money laundering in the scheme involving OLOL funds.
His first court appearance is set for Wednesday, June 12. He is also due for arraignment on June 20, where he is expected to enter a plea.
The DOJ says the embezzlement likely began sometime in 2012 and spanned all the way through Sept. 2018. It's believed Funes took more than $550,000 from the foundation, the department said. The criminal investigation began after an internal audit revealed Funes may have taken more than $800,000.
Documents suggest Funes executed his plan in a number of ways, including submitting fraudulent payment vouchers to himself or to others who would send the money to him. He also allegedly used funds to pay for personal charter flights and gift cards, passed off as gifts for cancer patients, for himself.
Funes' attorney released the following statement shortly after the charges were filed.
"John Paul Funes continues to accept full responsibility for his actions and is taking the steps necessary toward restitution to Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. He is extremely remorseful for the harm caused to the institution and others, including family, all of whom had no knowledge of any wrongdoing. Finally, John Paul has and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement agencies regarding this matter."
Our Lady of the Lake released its own statement shortly afterward, condemning Funes' "selfish actions."
“It is reassuring the investigation is nearing a close. We condemn Mr. Funes’ fraudulent and selfish actions and are truly sorry for the harm that he has caused to our community. We will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and anyone else impacted by Mr. Funes’ crimes.”
This investigation, led by the United States Secret Service with help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, is ongoing.
A statement from LSU earlier this year also suggested that some of Funes' wrongdoing may have also involved the university in some capacity.
You can read the full document here.
Funes' attorney told WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto, Funes will ultimately plead guilty and various people are working to determine the exact dollar figure Funes is accused of embezzling and it will be repaid.
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