Ridgecrest officials trial continued to next month

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VIDALIA — A trial for two former Town of Ridgecrest officials accused of malfeasance in office and theft of town funds was continued Monday until next month.

Former Ridgecrest Mayor Kevin Graham and Town Clerk Dana DeLaughter appeared before Seventh Judicial Court Judge Leo Boothe Monday morning to respond to a state’s request to continue the trial to March 25.

Assistant District Attorney David Opperman said there was a scheduling conflict with Graham’s attorney, Andy Magoun, who had a previously scheduled felony trial in Tensas Parish.

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A grand jury indicted Graham and DeLaughter in June.

Graham is charged with four counts of malfeasance in office, false accounting, filling false public record, theft greater than $500 and unauthorized use of a movable.

DeLaughter is charged with two counts of theft greater than $500, three counts of malfeasance in office, false accounting and filing false public record.

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 of aldermen in January.