Former Ridgecrest officials enter pleasPublished 12:14am Friday, August 17, 2012
Ridgecrest — Former Ridgecrest Mayor Kevin Graham and Town Clerk Dana DeLaughter entered not guilty pleas in court Wednesday during their first court appearance since a grand jury indicted the duo for crimes including malfeasance in office, theft of town funds greater than $1,500 and false accounting.
In June, eight “true bill” indictments were issued against Graham and seven against DeLaughter.
A “true bill” means there is sufficient evidence to justify the trial of the suspects.
Graham, 44, 619 E.E. Wallace Blvd., was booked into the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office on charges of malfeasance in office (four counts), false accounting, filing a false public record, theft greater than $500 and unauthorized use of a movable.
DeLaughter, 39, 580 Mooselodge Road, was booked into CPSO on charges of theft greater than $500 (two counts), malfeasance in office (three counts), false accounting and filing false a public record.
Both Graham and DeLaughter were released on $75,000 bond.
Assistant District Attorney David Opperman said the two were assigned legal counsel and a Sept. 12 court date was set to hear any motions filed.
An audit conducted by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor revealed that DeLaughter may have violated state law by failing to deposit $56,679 in utility payments, intentionally overstating $27,814 of utility collections to the town’s board of aldermen and issuing herself three extra payroll checks totaling $1,865.
The audit also stated that Graham used state grant funds to purchase a water pump and accessories for personal use totaling $4,055.
In early November, Graham resigned and DeLaughter was placed on administrative leave before being terminated by the board in January.