Construction bid scheme netted 3
LAFAYETTE — The owner of a Duson construction business pleaded guilty Monday in an investigation of a bid-rigging scheme to steer Opelousas Housing Authority contracts to his company.
Kendall T. Anderson, 41, owner of Anderson Iron Works, faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a federal charge of misprision of a felony for not reporting the illegal scheme.
The federal probe of Housing Authority contracts already has netted guilty pleas from former Director Walter O. Guillory and former employee Garnette L. Thomas.
Federal prosecutors said that from 2007 to 2009, the Housing Authority ignored policies that required competitive bidding on construction projects and awarded almost all the work to Anderson’s company.
Prosecutors have not detailed the dollar amount of the work involved or why Anderson’s company was the favored contractor.
The criminal charges were not directly related to the no-bid contracts but rather to a cover-up.
In June 2009, Guillory, concerned about a possible audit, told Thomas to revisit all the files for construction contracts to ensure that each file had a record of three bids for the work, despite the lack of a consistent bidding process, according to outline of the case filed by federal prosecutor Kelly Uebinger.
Thomas, with the help of Anderson, then fabricated paperwork to make it appear the Housing Authority had bid out the old contracts, creating fictitious proposals with letterheads from companies that had not actually bid on the work.
Thomas pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud in the scheme.
Guillory, who served as Housing Authority director from 2005 to 2009, pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud for signing off on the questionable no-bid contracts.
Guillory also served in a dual role as director of the Lafayette Housing Authority and he pleaded guilty to a separate federal charge of bribery for asking businesses who did business with the two 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 Guillory kept some of the cash for himself, according to court filings.
Uebinger said during Guillory’s February plea hearing that the $100,000 figure is a rough estimate and the actual amount Guillory pocketed compared with what went to the team is unknown.
“A lot of the money was in cash, so it’s impossible to trace,” she said.
Guillory resigned from the Lafayette Housing Authority in 2010 following a state audit that found widespread accounting problems and questionable expenses.
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.