St Landry Parish Audit - KLFY News 10

St Landry Parish Audit

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If things weren't already heating up in St. Landry parish government, a recently released audit might bring things to a boiling point.

It was the previous council that wanted to put a microscope on the final years of Don Menard's reign as parish president. The present council is pleased because the findings show possible wrong doing, but Menard says its nothing more than politics.

"The key word is in those findings is may, I may have violated the charter," says Menard in a telephone interview.

Former St. Landry parish president Don Menard feels he has done nothing wrong, and thinks this audit was nothing more than a political witch hunt.

It focuses on 2011, the last year Menard was in office. The previous council requested it, specifically looking to unearth a dual office holder, however, other red flags popped up like signing contracts without council approval, improper usage of parish vehicles, and undocumented credit card receipts for more than $16,000.

"Every penny or any money that was spent in my last year, year and a half or whatever is accounted for," says Menard.

Menard claims none of those purchases were inappropriate, he just merely was bad at keeping receipts, but the audit shows inconsistencies in Menard's responses.

"The people that do the annual audit never did mention anything to me about that. So I thought it was proper," explains Menard.

As earlier stated the audit was called for suspected dual office holding by now Director of Administration, Jessie Bellard, who also serves as a full-time captain with the Opelousas Fire Department.

After interviews the audit claims Bellard basically ran the day to day operations while Menard was out campaigning for state representative, but Bellard was never officially named Chief Administrative Officer, which is a full time position.

"I never for one second relinquished my powers as president," claims Menard.

Bellard, who is Menard's nephew, was originally hired as an office assistant at $8.50 an hour, but records now show is making upwards of $50,000 a year. The current council claims nothing has changed as far as his role.

"They felt that we were going to get a new administration. Mr. Fontenot chose not to do that, and that is why we're still having problems," says Council Chair Wayne Ardoin.

Current parish president Bill Fontenot has responded to the audit along with the council.  It's been forwarded to District Attorney Earl Taylor who will decide if there are any criminal acts.

Doug MacDiarmid

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