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Former prosecutor among handful indicted in money laundering scheme

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PORT ALLEN – A former military judicial officer and state fraud prosecutor was among a handful of people indicted in a corruption investigation Friday.

A West Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted a group of people on charges related to allegations they funneled more than $800,000 in government money through a scheme that washed the money and put it back into the pockets of the scheme ringleaders, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the group was falsifying invoices, inflating costs and skimming the difference.

Those mentioned by prosecutors include Tom McCormick and Rob McCormick.

Rob McCormick works for the state fire marshal and handles emergency management.

Tom McCormick is a former JAG officer and a former state prosecutor who focused on fraud cases.  McCormick also ran for district judge in 2018.

In announcing his campaign for 18th Judicial District Judge at the time, McCormick told the Pointe Coupee Reporter, a New Roads newspaper, he has support for the campaign “because the people of the district know I will ethically, diligently and effectively carry out the duties required of a District Judge.”

McCormick's campaign for a judgeship vacated when the then-judge resigned over his own allegations of wrongdoing.

McCormick lost the election.

Prosecutors said the scheme involved fake invoices for items purchased through the state during state-wide emergency situations and disasters.   

Prosecutors said the brothers doctored invoices for water and ice that was later resold and laundered money through several companies by labeling payments as legal fees.

In one example shown by prosecutors, Rob McCormick, the fire marshal’s emergency management officer, bought bottled water for $.13 (13-cents) and resold them for as much as $1.50.  The difference was washed through shell companies. 

Four others tied to shell companies, Philip Sibley, Stacy Smith, Bernard Christmas, and Ava Richardson, were also indicted by the grand jury Friday. 

One of the companies used to launder the money was the law firm of Rob McCormick’s twin, Tom, who was also indicted.  Tom McCormick is the former fraud prosecutor. 

Prosecutors handling the indictment Friday said the money was used to pay the brothers’ credit card bills, car payments and school tuitions. 

The Legislative Auditor first found concerning evidence and forwarded it to the westside district attorney.  D.A. Tony Clayton said his office spent several months investigating ahead of Friday’s grand jury indictments. 

"It's because of his knowledge that he thought he could pull this off," prosecutor Tony Clayton said in announcing the indictments Friday.  Tom McCormick used his knowledge to try to work the system, he said.

Charges include malfeasance in office, racketeering and falsifying public documents. The McCormick brothers both bonded out hours after their arrests.

The State Fire Marshal's Office released a statement Friday: “We were angered and frustrated to be informed that our agency’s genuine effort to help the people of Louisiana, during one of the most challenging years in this state’s history, was allegedly taken advantage of."

We immediately conducted an internal investigation which has, so far, uncovered policy violations by former employee Robert McCormick, along with former reserve deputy Stacy Smith. McCormick, assigned to the agency’s emergency services division, resigned while on administrative leave, in lieu of termination, prior to the completion of the investigation. Stacy Smith’s reserve designation was separated from the agency.

The internal investigation has also, so far, revealed related and unrelated policy violations by McCormick’s supervisor, and Stacy Smith’s husband, former employee Dean Smith, who also resigned while on administrative leave prior to the conclusion of the investigation.

The internal investigation is ongoing, but being finalized. We continue to review internal controls while we stand in support of the efforts of 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton, as well as the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, who initiated an investigation in May at the request of the governor’s office. All agencies involved are committed to obtaining full restitution for the people of Louisiana.

However, this should not diminish the dedicated work of the countless other State Fire Marshal employees who conducted themselves as true public servants during the state’s critical times of need.”

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