NEW ORLEANS -- A former state employee was indicted Wednesday in Baton Rouge for allegedly removing protected homeowner information and selling it to private elevation contractors.
The charges against Kurt Wiltshire, 31 of New Orleans, come nearly two years after I exposed his alleged schemes in a series of newspaper articles.
Initially, in the summer of 2011, I reported allegations made by another state employee, who said that when Wiltshire left the state's home elevation grant staff, he continued to get homeowner data from a program supervisor.
Wiltshire called that accusation 'b.s.' and 'a total lie.'
I also discovered that after Wiltshire left his state job, he wrote at least one email to an elevation contractor saying that a prospective client was 'good' for a grant. The contractor, Coastal Shoring, said they hired Wiltshire to provide insider information.
But again, Wiltshire denied providing any.
And then I found out the state conducted a grant information and sign-up session that Wiltshire organized and only his contractor clients were invited, giving them unchallenged access to hundreds of homeowners from a special state list.
Paul Rainwater, the commissioner of administration at the time, said he and his staff had been duped by Wiltshire's group and thought the event would be open to all.
Based on my reports, the state attorney general launched a probe into Wiltshire and his consulting company, New Path Recovery, and into bribery and graft in the program in general. Another elevation consultant I had investigated at the time, Rickey Davis, was the first indicted for bribery. He ended up pleading guilty to counts in both state and federal court, admitting that he paid a state official for the data.
The taxpayer-financed program paid contractors so well that they were willing to pay $10,000 a name to people like Davis to get inside tracks on contracts with approved homeowners. After my stories made front-page news for weeks, Gov. Bobby Jindal stepped in and announced that he was making major changes to what contractors could participate in the program.