Former OLOL Foundation President guilty of embezzlement now has sentencing date

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) – The sentencing for the former Our Lady of the Lake Foundation President is now set.

John Paul Funes will be sentenced October 17. His attorney, Walt Green, confirmed that to NBC 33 and Fox 44 Monday.

Funes pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering back in June.

As a result of his conviction, the 49-year-old faces a significant term of imprisonment, a fine, and a period of supervised release.

According to admissions made during his plea, Funes executed a scheme to defraud Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and caused a loss of more than $550,000. Funes prepared, signed, and submitted payment vouchers that caused the Foundation’s accounting personnel to issue checks for the payees, amounts, and purposes reflected on the vouchers. Because of his position at the Foundation, Funes could approve his own vouchers, which enabled him to submit dozens of false and fraudulent vouchers that misrepresented the purpose of the checks.

For example, Funes submitted numerous fraudulent vouchers in which he represented that Foundation funds were necessary to pay a charter flight company to make time-sensitive “outbound patient transports” from Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, when in fact Funes was repeatedly using the flight company’s services for his own personal benefit, unbeknownst to the Foundation.

As another example, Funes submitted numerous vouchers in which he fraudulently represented that funds were necessary to purchase gift cards that would be provided to cancer patients, when in fact Funes often used the cards for his own personal benefit.

The Bill of Information also alleges that, on numerous occasions, after fraudulently causing the Foundation to issue payments to other individuals, Funes would direct those individuals to funnel the majority of the funds back to him, by check or money order, thereby conducting financial transactions designed in part to conceal proceeds of the fraudulent scheme. According to the Bill, in August 2018, when the Foundation’s finance department began an internal audit of the expenses described above, Funes created numerous false documents in an effort to conceal the scheme.

U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin stated, “This conviction makes evident our willingness to prosecute anyone who violates the trust of their employers by unjustly enriching themselves through fraudulent schemes. Not only did Mr. Funes betray his employer and the many benevolent donors whose generosity fueled the mission of the Foundation but he also betrayed the trust of the many great people served by the Foundation.

Back in June, Funes’s attorney,  released a statement, “John Paul’s guilty pleas are another step in the continuing process of taking full responsibility for his actions.  John Paul remains extremely remorseful for the impact his past actions have had on the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center & Foundation, the community and his family & friends.  He will continue to cooperate with all law enforcement agencies and plans to make full restitution.”

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