Former HA director pleads guilty in theft case

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 3, 2003

ALEXANDRIA &045; Facing what can only be called an obese body of evidence, almost bursting at the seams with receipts, canceled checks and other assorted incriminating facts, former Ferriday Housing Authority Director pleaded guilty Dec. 20 in federal court to misappropriation of funds.

Bell was indicted Oct. 1, 2002, on four counts of theft and bribery for using federal funds for his personal use.

A detailed report released that summer by state Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle alleged that Bell had misappropriated more than $218,169

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from 1996 to

2000, spending the money on everything from a home entertainment system to a boat to adult online services to health food.

Bell issued a written response to the charges, included in Kyle’s report.

In November 2001, he was removed from his post.

Netrina England, a housing authority secretary, was appointed to take Bell’s place after his dismissal. England still holds the post.

Bell’s trial was originally scheduled to begin last January, but Bell’s attorney filed a motion to continue, which pushed it back to April. The most recently scheduled trial date was this coming Monday.

Although charged with four counts of misappropriation, Bell pleaded to guilty to just one. The plea reportedly saved Bell from facing the remaining three counts.

The deposed director will face sentencing at the hands of Chief U.S. District Judge F.A. Little Jr. on April 21.

Bell could receive a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison for his admitted misdeeds.