Allegations: Payments exceeded $100,000
LAFAYETTE — The former director of the public housing authorities in Lafayette and Opelousas faces federal bribery and wire fraud charges for allegedly steering contracts to companies in exchange for payments total ing more than $100,000.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Walter O. Guillory in an investigation of housing contracts from 2006 to 2010, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Guillory served as director of the Lafayette Housing Authority from 1998 through 2010 and also served in a dual role as director of the Opelousas Housing Authority from 2005 to 2009.
Federal prosecutors allege Guillory “solicited and received in excess of $100,000” in return for awarding or renewing contracts at the housing authorities in Lafayette and Opelousas.
None of the companies involved is listed in the court documents, with the exception of one construction contractor identified only by the initials “K.A.”
Guillory resigned from the Lafayette Housing Authority in 2010 after a critical state audit found questionable expenses and widespread problems with record-keeping at the agency.
The criminal charges against him come after a former employee of the Opelousas Housing Authority, Garnette L. Thomas, pleaded guilty in September to a federal wire fraud charge.
Thomas admitted to falsifying paperwork to make it appear that contractors who were awarded bids by the Opelousas Housing Authority had won the projects through the public bidding process that was legally required for the government contracts.
Federal prosecutors said she used letterheads from contractors who had not actually bid on the projects to create phony bids to give the appearance of a legitimate competitive bid process.
At her guilty plea in September, Thomas told a magistrate judge she helped cover up the bid-rigging “because I was told to,” though she did not elaborate.
Thomas agreed to cooperate with federal authorities as part of her plea deal.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the primary funding source for public housing projects, disbanded the Lafayette Housing Authority board in 2011 and took over management of the local agency, citing “numerous financial deficiencies over the past three years and a leadership vacuum.”
Guillory could not be reached for comment on Friday, and no attorney was listed for him in the court record.