Walter Guillory pleading guilty Friday

by Leslie Turk

Former LHA chief is scheduled to appear in federal court at 9:30 a.m. and plead guilty to his role in a bid-fixing scheme, the court calendar reveals.

Walter Guillory is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday at 9:30 a.m. and plead guilty to federal bribery and wire fraud charges, the court calendar reveals.

The former executive director of the Lafayette Housing Authority was charged in a bill of information Dec. 19 for his role in a bid-fixing scheme at the Lafayette Housing Authority and Opelousas Housing Authority. The bill of information accuses the former executive director of receiving more than $100,000 in bribes while heading the two agencies.

Photo by Robin May

Former LHA Executive Director Walter Guillory is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday and plead guilty to his role in a bid-fixing scheme that favored a single contractor.

The guilty plea, widely expected in light of the decision not to bring the case to a grand jury, comes three years after Guillory resigned as ED of the Lafayette agency.

Guillory was in charge of the LHA from 1998 through 2010, having served a dual role heading the OHA from 2005 to 2009. He resigned in October 2010, in the midst of a federal investigation of the agency. The federal probe was prompted by an independent audit that pointed to 16 serious problems with how the agency is managed and questioned more than $240,000 in payments to contractors working the Disaster Housing Assistance Program, purportedly designed to help poor people find suitable housing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Former Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams was a DHAP case worker, a fact that came to light as a result of the independent audit. Fired along with the other case workers, he has been in an ongoing battle with the LHA over back pay.

The first person charged in the bid-fixing scheme, Garnette Thomas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September. According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Thomas was employed as the OHA's grant and capital funds coordinator from 2005 to 2009 and admitted that she conspired with other unnamed conspirators to send and receive fake bids by email in order to circumvent state and federal bid laws. Prosecutors say Thomas and others used letterhead and information of other contractors not placing bids on the projects to further the scheme.

The feds say Guillory's and Thomas' efforts benefited a single contractor, identified in court papers as "K.A." The IND contends K.A. is Kendall Anderson of Anderson Iron Works.

Guillory, according to the bill of information charging him, approved the contracts with full knowledge that bid rules, laws and regulations were not being followed.

Additional charges and/or indictments are expected in the case. Read more here.