Audit: Work on ex-prison warden’s homes may have broken law

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The former warden of Louisiana’s largest prison may have violated state law by using prison resources and public funds to renovate and furnish his homes, according to a government report released Monday.

An audit report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office details other potentially illegal transactions involving the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, including more than $100,000 in personal purchases and undocumented cash withdrawals made by a former prison employee.

But the report focuses on former warden Burl Cain, who resigned last January after two decades in charge of one of the nation’s largest maximum-security prisons.

Nearly $28,000 in public money was used for the unauthorized purchase of appliances and household furnishings for Cain’s home on prison grounds, the audit found. Cain’s relatives stayed overnight in state-owned homes at the prison nearly 200 times between September 2010 and December 2015, investigators also found.

“Lodging and meals provided to Warden Cain’s immediate and extended family members without a public purpose represent an improper donation of public funds and may violate the state constitution and state law,” the report says.

Investigators examined renovations to Cain’s personal home in Baton Rouge, where 10 prison employees performed construction work in 2015. Three of the maintenance workers apparently failed to take leave for time they spent working on Cain’s house, the audit found.

Cain also used the prison’s metal fabrication shop to refurbish two iron gates at his Baton Rouge home without paying for the work, the report says.

Once considered one of the state’s most powerful figures, Cain ran the prison from 1995 until early last year.

Cain resigned following a string of Advocate newspaper reports about his private real estate dealings. The Baton Rouge newspaper also reported on some of the same allegations covered by the audit.

In a written response to the audit, Cain’s attorney, L.J. Hymel, claimed many of its findings and legal conclusions are “in error.” For instance, Hymel said a prison official who supervised work on Cain’s Baton Rouge home would have been in the “best position” to determine if Angola employees properly took and documented their leave.

“If there is an irregularity here, it would be in the neglected paperwork of each employee,” the attorney wrote.

Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc said in a written response to the audit that the appliance and home furnishing purchases made for Cain’s home at Angola were inappropriate and not sanctioned by any department policy. LeBlanc also said Cain is liable for the cost of labor used to refurbish his Baton Rouge home’s iron gates.

The prison has roughly 6,300 inmates, including those on death row.


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