UPDATE: Caddo Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne and his sister Belena Turner, both facing federal charges for allegedly stealing money from a summer food program for kids, made their first appearance in federal court.
Cawthorne and Turner were supposed to enter a plea today, but the arraignment was moved back because they are still working out what lawyers will represent them in this case.
Both are charged with seven federal counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly stealing more than $500,000 from a children’s summer food program.
Defense lawyer, Marty Stroud, was sitting in with Turner and Cawthorne todaym but Cawthorne told Judge Mark Hornsby he will be hiring Shreveport lawyer Randy Keene.
Turner will try to keep Stroud as her attorney, but since Cawthorne has already spoken with him, a hearing will help decide if there is a conflict of interest moving forward.
“Whether or not there’s a conflict involving this case and thats something for the judge to decide next week.” “Is it still their intention to plead not guilty?” “Yes” said Stroud.
Cawthorne and Turner were both released on a secure bond of $25,000. Cawthorne turned in his passport and both had to promise to come back to court next Wednesday for all proceedings.
ORIGINAL: A Caddo Parish Commissioner who has been indicted on federal fraud charges is due in court later today (Wednesday).
Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne’s non-profit was established to provide meals for children in low-income areas.
The non- profit was reviewed by the division of nutrition support.
Both Cawthorne and his sister, Belena Turner are being sued by the state of Louisiana.
They are accused of wire fraud. Their application lists Dreamkeepers Academy in Shreveport. as a site where children received summer meals.
According to the state- the non-profit received 132-thousand-dollars for meals they di not serve.
“You are supposed to have integrity if you are going to take money and feed kids. You are supposed to have passion for helping kids. You’re **** sure not supposed to have a passion for stealing the money,” said Caddo Parish Sheriff’ Steve Prator.
Cawthorne and Turner both face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud.
The two are expected to appear in federal court.
Cawthorne was a no–show at this week’s Caddo Commission meeting…