Duson businessman sentenced in federal probe

A Duson businessman was sentenced Thursday to one-year probation in a federal bid-rigging probe at the Opelousas Housing Authority.

Kendall T. Anderson pleaded guilty in April to misprision of a felony for not reporting a scheme to steer housing authority contracts to his company, Anderson Iron Works.

Anderson was tagged in an investigation that also netted guilty pleas from former Opelousas Housing Authority Director Walter O. Guillory and Garnette L. Thomas, former grant and capital funds coordinator for the Housing Authority.

Guillory was sentenced in June to two years and four months in prison. Thomas received two years of probation in July.

Federal prosecutors said all three were involved in skirting competitive bidding laws on construction projects from 2007 to 2009 then covering their tracks with falsified paperwork.

Guillory, who served in a dual role as director of the Lafayette Housing Authority, also admitted asking companies that worked for the two public agencies to make donations to a youth baseball team he sponsored, keeping some of the money for himself, according to prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud for signing off on the questionable no-bid contracts and a separate bribery charge related to the donations, which prosecutors said totaled more than $100,000 from 2006 to 2010.

In the bid-rigging case, prosecutors said Guillory, concerned about auditors reviewing construction contracts, told Thomas to ensure Housing Authority files had evidence of three bids for each construction contract.

Thomas, working with Anderson, then fabricated bid proposals to give the appearance that the Housing Authority had solicited bids from at least three companies for the contracts in question, according to prosecutors.

Guillory left the Opelousas Housing Authority in 2009 and resigned as the director of the Lafayette Housing Authority in 2010 following a critical state audit of the Lafayette agency that uncovered questionable expense and accounting problems.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took over management of the LHA in 2011, dissolving the local board that once managed the agency.

Federal officials remain in control there.