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Former SU band director sentenced to federal prison, must pay back nearly $80K

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BATON ROUGE- Nathan Haymer, the former director of Southern University's acclaimed marching band, was sentenced to over a year in federal prison.

A judge ruled Tuesday that Haymer would spend 13 months in prison and must pay $78,690 in restitution back to the school. He'll also be on probation for three years upon his release. 

“You took advantage of Southern university and saw it as an opportunity to enrich yourself. You knew there were loopholes, and you exploited that," Judge Brian Jackson, a Southern Law Center alum, told Haymer.

Last year, Haymer pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in federal court after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed and extensively covered his crimes. Haymer admitted to submitting at least 15 fraudulent invoices to Southern University for band expenses and keeping the money for his own personal use.

He was also accused of taking kickbacks for band performances.

"I'm an honest person," Haymer told WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto back in 2018. "I have integrity. Southern pays me well enough and there's no need for me to get kickbacks."

The scheme went on from 2016 until 2018 and Haymer was eventually charged with federal program theft for embezzling a total of $30,000. Prior to working at Southern, he was also accused of taking $40,000 during his tenure with a high school band. The feds determined Haymer stole $112,771.16. He repaid $34,081 so far and must pay another $78,000 back when he gets out of prison.

"We were hoping for probation," Haymer's attorney Karl Bernard said. "He did plead guilty to the charge that he was charged with."

Bernard said Southern University needs to beef up their internal controls following his client's conviction and sentence. 

"There are a lot of smart people at Southern," Bernard said. "Those individuals should invest the time and effort to put in the protocols and procedures so the talented individuals like a Nathan Haymer won't fall prey to this type of incident again."

Haymer expressed remorse inside the courtroom, telling a judge that his actions ruined his family's name. Judge Jackson said Haymer's efforts to deceive were extraordinary.

"You as a Southern University alum should understand the historic mission of the university," Judge Jackson told Haymer. "Southern trusted you, but you betrayed Southern."

Haymer must surrender himself into federal custody by May 3. 

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