Judge sentences Austin to jail, house arrest


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former high-ranking official with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has been sentenced to six months in prison and another six months of house arrest for fraud conspiracy related to an overbilling scheme involving off-duty deputy details.

Roy Austin apologized before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt announced the sentence Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors say the 69-year-old scammed festivals, sporting events, Mardi Gras krewes and other organizations that used his company, Austin Sales and Services Inc., to coordinate security detail work staffed by off-duty deputies and officers.

Austin, a former colonel, is accused of falsely inflating invoices of 10 clients, charging them for work by employees, who never showed up to provide any services. He pleaded guilty May 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

NOLA.com reports (http://bit.ly/2glM43c) Engelhardt said Austin’s payment so far of $83,000 in restitution to those who were defrauded and his stated intentions to pay the remaining balance — $914 — after the sentencing hearing demonstrated he was “contrite.” That, coupled with his “substantial” cooperation with the federal government’s investigation into the scheme, were factors Engelhardt said he weighed when deciding on his punishment.

Engelhardt allowed Austin to remain free until he self-reports to the Federal Bureau of Prisons at noon Jan. 25. Some family and friends who sat in the courtroom gallery could be heard crying and sniffling as a tearful Austin apologized to the judge and then throughout the hearing.

Jerry Ursin, Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s former second-in-command, also pleaded guilty in the scheme.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

 

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