Duson businessman charged in federal housing probe

Phony bid forms alleged for projects

An Acadiana businessman has been charged in an ongoing federal probe of bid-rigging and bribery at the public housing authorities in Opelousas and Lafayette.

Kendall T. Anderson, of Anderson Iron Works in Duson, faces one count of misprision of a felony for allegedly not reporting bid-rigging at the Opelousas Housing Authority, according to court documents filed Monday by federal prosecutors.

Anderson’s company has done construction work for the housing authorities in Opelousas and Lafayette, as well as for the city of Opelousas.

Federal prosecutors have not elaborated on the specifics of the allegations against him, other than to allege in court filings that he was aware of and failed to report the illegal actions of Garnette L. Thomas, a former Opelousas Housing Authority employee who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud in the investigation.

Thomas admitted using letterheads from contractors who had not actually bid on projects to create phony bid documents, giving the impression that contracts were awarded through the competitive bid process that was legally required for the public projects.

It is unclear from the court record whether or not those contracts were steered to Anderson.

Anderson Iron Works was the recipient of contracts with Opelousas that were highlighted in a 2011 state audit that found possible violations of the state’s public bid laws.

Anderson referred comment to his attorney, Donald Washington, who did not return a message left at his office on Tuesday.

The federal investigation also has netted a guilty plea from Walter O. Guillory, who 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.

Guillory admitted in February to bribery and wire fraud charges for signing off on questionable contracts and for asking vendors who did business with the housing authorities to make annual donations to a youth baseball team he sponsored.

The donations totaled more than $100,000 from 2006 to 2010, and federal prosecutors allege Guillory kept some of that cash for himself, though investigators have been unable to determine how much.

Guillory resigned from the Lafayette Housing Authority in 2010 following a critical state audit that found widespread accounting problems and questionable expenses.