Troubles continue to mount for Walter Lee, BESE Board member and former superintendent of Desoto Parish Schools, who was indicted in January on two counts of theft, one count for public contract fraud and one for malfeasance in office. At his March 5 arraignment, Lee pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Desoto District Attorney Richard Johnson today said he plans to this week send a letter to State Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera asking that he conduct an audit of Lee’s financial activities for the past five years. “I may even ask for an audit from the time he was hired,” Johnson said.
Lee’s indictments came on the heels of a December 2013 Legislative Audit detailing Lee’s “improper travel reimbursements” and an “improperly terminated vehicle lease.” In addition, the audit reported Lee, whose starting salary in July 1999 was $70,822, gave himself pay raises of more than $170,000 without board approval during his 13-year tenure at DPSB.
Penalty for a conviction of theft of $1,500 or more is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $3,000 or both; a malfeasance in office can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 or both; and a conviction of public contract fraud is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Lee’s trial is scheduled for May 5, 2014.