SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — After a week of legal threats and political slander, state investigators could soon be in Shreveport to investigate allegations of financial malfeasance and wrongdoing within the Department of Finance from the city ?
Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack says that’s definitely a possibility.
On Monday, January 24, S. Ben Hebert, former Shreveport City Comptroller, promised legal action against the City of Shreveport. He claimed he was fired after reporting city leaders for alleged financial irregularities.
This included things like improperly approving and paying for some of Mayor Adrian Perkins’ travel expenses, in violation of state law.
As a certified public accountant and fraud examiner, Hébert’s allegations caught the attention of Councilman John Nickelson. He then sent a letter to Baton Rouge asking Waguespack to investigate the city of Shreveport’s finance department.
“We can simply step in as a trusted advisor to begin the process of reviewing complaints and reviewing accounting practices or reviewing documentation. And if that leads us to an investigative mode, we’ll definitely go that route as well. If we find merit in the complaints or what we are looking into,” he said.
According to Waguespeak, because of Nickelson’s position on the city council, his request for a state investigation carries added weight.
“So our team takes all complaints seriously, but of course what it’s about is a lawyer making such a report, a request about their entity itself, that’s certainly worth it to us. ‘really looking into it,’ he said.
Nickelson is now drawing fire from Perkins, who questioned the alderman’s ‘motives and character’ in a statement given to KSLA.
According to Perkins, Nickelson misrepresents himself to the Legislative Auditor’s office by writing that he is “Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee of the Shreveport City Council.” It’s a title that several council members tell KSLA which Nickelson held until he requested an investigative audit of the city’s finances.
According to Perkins, under the city charter, Nickelson’s term as chair of the audit and finance committee ended when Councilman James Green became city council chairman two weeks ago.
Waguespack says it won’t pay any attention to these policies. If an investigation is needed, he says his listeners come to town. He said his office could decide whether or not to investigate the department within the next two weeks.
“If we come across things that cause concern and we need to investigate further, we will,” he said.
Councilman Nickelson and Mayor Perkins declined an interview for this story.
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