NEW ORLEANS -- Fallout from the state audit into the possible misuse of state funds by the former Louisiana State Police Superintendent could result in criminal charges for Mike Edmonson and possibly others.
The 42-page investigative report outlines nine examples of potentially illegal misspending and inappropriate behavior.
Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera stopped short of saying whether laws were broken.
"As far as the content of the report, I think as you read it you'll see it's maybe classified more as abuses rather than blatant disregard, more of abuses," Purpera said.
Auditors say Edmonson improperly moved his family to a home on the state police compound, put family and friends in New Orleans hotel rooms set aside for troopers assisting with Mardi Gras security and used troopers to run personal errands for him and his family.
Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says not reporting nearly a half-million dollars in free housing, meals and other gratuities is problematic for Edmonson.
"I think the Colenol has serious concerns -- or should have serious concerns -- about being investigated by federal tax authorities on this issue," Ciolino said. "Under the IRS Tax Code, you cannot receive housing and meals unless that's provided for the convenience of your employer. Here, it was clearly for his own convenience and his own financial benefit."
An earlier state police internal affairs report claims Edmonson deleted text messages as the agency investigated four troopers who charged taxpayers for overtime and expensive stays at the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas as they drove to a law enforcement conference in California.
The report concluded it was "obvious" that Edmonson knew all along about the scenic detours.
"Louisiana is one of the broadest Obstruction of Justice statutes in the country," Ciolino said. "It covers destroying evidence related to ongoing investigations and prosecutions, but also to even potential ones."
Ciolino added, "The deletion of these text messages at his direction would clearly fit under the Obstruction of Justice statute in the Louisiana Criminal Code. That's a serious problem."
The audit cites three pages of criminal laws and state policies that may have been violated by Edmonson and others.
"The report certainly will be passed on to others to see if there's some other action that might need to be taken," Purpera said. "My office is a fact finding agency and merely we just find the facts and report them."
Edmonson may also face possible state ethics violations. According to Professor Ciolino, that could be the least of his problems.
Findings in the audit report have not soured the New Orleans hotel industry on the state police.
The New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association confirms hotels are already volunteering rooms for troopers for the upcoming Mardi Gras season.
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