AG: Tangipahoa School Board member admits to theft, tax evasion

A Tangipahoa Parish School Board member must resign after pleading guilty to theft and tax evasion in a scheme with his wife to defraud the Louisiana Medicaid program, the state Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.

Eric Dangerfield, 61, pleaded guilty Friday in 19th Judicial District Court to six counts of misdemeanor theft and two misdemeanor counts of tax evasion, and his wife, Cassandra N. Dangerfield, 55, pleaded guilty to one felony count of racketeering and two felony counts of state tax evasion, attorney general spokeswoman Laura Gerdes Colligan said.

The couple owned 1st Thessalonians Community Programs Inc., a personal care business in Hammond, through which they billed the state Medicaid program more than $18 million from 2002 to 2009, Colligan said.

Cassandra Dangerfield filed numerous false claims for personal care services, then used the proceeds to pay the couple’s salaries, buy property and luxury vehicles, pay college tuition for their adult sons, fund Eric Dangerfield’s School Board campaign and pay for other personal expenses, Colligan said.

The couple also filed false tax returns to avoid paying taxes on income derived from the business, Colligan said.

Cassandra Dangerfield received a 14-year suspended sentence and was placed on five years of active supervised probation for the three felony charges.

Eric Dangerfield received a 4-year suspended sentence for the eight misdemeanor charges and must resign from the School Board by Aug. 7, Colligan said.

Under the plea agreement, the Dangerfields will pay $3.5 million in restitution, fines and penalties, and they agreed to forfeit interest in their Hammond home, a shopping center they own at 707 Coleman Ave. and four luxury vehicles, Colligan said.

The couple will be barred for life from owning or seeking employment with any entity that receives Medicaid or Medicare funding.

They also must pay the Louisiana Department of Revenue $74,175 for back taxes and investigative costs associated with the tax evasion charges, Colligan said.