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LSU notified as investigation reveals $810K lost in OLOL Foundation head's alleged embezzlement scheme

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UPDATE: Funes has been charged in federal court. Check HERE for the full update.

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BATON ROUGE - Our Lady of the Lake says more than $810,000 were lost as a result of the alleged embezzlement by the OLOL Foundation's former president John Paul Funes.

The statement from Our Lady of the Lake says it's believed Funes acted alone when he allegedly embezzled the money. OLOL says it plans to replace those funds and seek restitution from Funes.

The OLOL Foundation is the hospital's fundraising arm where generous people can donate money for various causes. An audit discovered several hundred thousand dollars unaccounted for last year, prompting a wider investigation. Funes was fired in November after a third-party investigation revealed what it called a "pattern of forgery and embezzlement of funds."

The news release from OLOL Thursday also says LSU is being notified because of two other issue revealed in the investigation. However, details surrounding those issues were not immediately released.

LSU released its own statement addressing the issues involving the university. The school says the NCAA has been notified of both issues, one of which apparently involved the parent of a former student-athlete who worked at the university.
"LSU can confirm notification in late 2018 by Our Lady of The Lake officials of two findings from their forensic investigation of John Paul Funes. Both findings were reported to the NCAA in 2018. One of the findings is not believed to be a matter of compliance or an NCAA issue. The second finding involves the hiring of a parent of a former LSU student-athlete from 2012-2015. The university is actively working with the NCAA to resolve this issue.

LSU has and will continue to monitor this matter for compliance issues working closely with the NCAA. As this is also an ongoing legal matter involving other parties, investigators have requested LSU have no further comment."

Our Lady of the Lake's full statement can be found below.

“Working with a leading independent third-party financial audit firm, we have recently completed a comprehensive evaluation of fraudulent activities committed by Mr. John Paul Funes and the safeguards we have in place to protect our ministry and the funds we raise through our Foundation. 

We’ve identified approximately $810,000 lost due to fraudulent activity committed by Mr. Funes, former president of the Foundation. We will complete replacement of those funds within the next 30 days and will seek restitution from Mr. Funes. 

The work by the independent third-party firm has confirmed that Mr. Funes acted alone and was the only member of the organization involved. Over several years, he orchestrated a series of fraudulent transactions that involved the purchase and distribution of gift cards, charter flights and payments to individuals, including forged documents, invoices and signatures. He misled hundreds of people in and outside of our organization. 

The forensic investigation also revealed two questionable issues that warranted we notify legal counsel for LSU. Since we are not involved and the outcome does not impact our operations, we will not have any further details or comments on this issue. 

Although no system is foolproof, we will do everything we can to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Our donors’ contributions are safe and being used with integrity and responsible purpose. The work we’ve done with the third-party audit has given us a clear roadmap to address the vulnerabilities Mr. Funes exposed. We’ve already begun immediate changes including additional approvals for expenditures and more oversight on adherence to our policies and processes. 

We continue to cooperate with law enforcement. We remain shocked and appalled by Mr. Funes’ fraudulent activities and are truly sorry for the harm that he has caused our community.” 

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