Third state auditor pleads guilty in ongoing federal probe

A former managing auditor for the state Department of Children and Family Services told a federal judge Tuesday that he used his state credit card to rent hotel suites for Mardi Gras in New Orleans and also was reimbursed more than $27,000 for official travel that never occurred.

Corey S. Polk, 33, is the third ex-DCFS auditor to plead guilty to federal program fraud since late May.

Former DCFS auditing director Delrice Augustus, 34, pleaded guilty May 28 to theft from a federally funded entity, and Kaneasha Goston, 38, who reported to Augustus, pleaded guilty last week to the same charge.

Polk, Augustus and Goston, all of Baton Rouge, are awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors have put the value of the fraud committed by Augustus, who resigned May 23, at slightly more than $150,000.

Augustus admitted he stole the money from DCFS since 2010 by using an assistant’s state credit card to buy personal items — an installed dishwasher, movies, televisions, mobile devices, cameras, gaming devices, wireless audio systems and vacuums — and also misused a state travel card to buy hotel suites in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and the NBA All-Star Game.

Detectives do not consider Augustus’ assistant a suspect.

Augustus created and used fraudulent documents to request and receive reimbursement from the state for official travel that did not occur, his plea agreement states. The fake documents would reflect that Polk and Goston had incurred official travel expenses.

Polk and Goston would sign fraudulent reimbursement requests as the requesting employees, and Augustus would sign as the approving supervisor. The state would pay the requested amount to Polk and Goston, who would split the proceeds with Augustus, according to his plea agreement.

Polk told U.S. District Judge James Brady on Tuesday that he was reimbursed $27,540 for travel that did not occur.

U.S. Attorney Walt Green has said the federal and state investigation is continuing and that DCFS leadership has fully cooperated with the probe.