Ex-employee of Opelousas Housing Authority charged

A former employee of the Opelousas Housing Authority whose job was to ensure that the agency’s bids from contractors conformed to federal and state laws faces a federal charge of conspiracy, according to U.S. District Court records.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday said Garnette L. Thomas skirted the rules in an alleged scheme that benefited one contractor, referred to as “K.A.” in the bill of information that charged her with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Thomas worked as grant and capital funds coordinator from 2005 through 2009 at the housing agency that was created so poor people could live in safe, affordable housing, according to the court document made public Thursday afternoon.

Federal investigators believe she conspired to award housing authority work to one contractor from 2007 through 2009.

Thomas is accused of creating false bids for projects with unnamed others, and “did this by using the letterhead and information of other contractors who were not placing bids on these projects,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly P. Uebinger wrote.

“These false bids were placed in the file in order to give the appearance that the bid rules were being followed,” Uebinger wrote.

The charging bill states “K.A.” sent Thomas an email June 24, 2009, that contained bid sheets on a project on Nichol Lane in Opelousas.

The email correspondence constituted wire fraud, according to the bill.

Efforts to contact Thomas late Thursday were unsuccessful. It was unknown whether she has an attorney.