Guillory admits he took bribes from vendors

by Patrick Flanagan

The former head of the Lafayette and Opelousas housing authorities pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to soliciting and accepting bribes from vendors and for his role in a bid-fixing scheme.

Walter Guillory, the former executive director of the Lafayette and Opelousas housing authorities, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday morning to soliciting and accepting bribes from vendors and admitted his role in a bid-fixing scheme that benefited a single local contractor.

As part of the plea deal, Guillory has agreed to cooperate in the federal government's ongoing investigation into the housing authorities. Guillory was forced to resign as head of the Lafayette Housing Authority in late 2010, after an independent audit turned up numerous instances of gross mismanagment and raised the specter of criminal activity in the organization.

Walter Guillory, the former executive director of the Lafayette and Opelousas housing authorities, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday.

During Friday's proceedings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Uebinger said Guillory took in more than $100,000 in contributions from housing authority vendors for a baseball fundraiser he sponsored annually between 2007 and 2009.

A source familiar with the fundraisers, which were held at the Hilton Lafayette, says there was no baseball team; rather, the donations were supposed to be used for the housing authority's youth programs.

"He received in excess of $100,000 in contributions from LHA and OHA vendors," said Uebinger. "They would make yearly donations to the baseball team in exchange for doing business with the Housing Authority."

The problem, noted Uebinger, is that Guillory couldn't account for how much of the $100,000 went to the baseball fundraisers and how much went into his pocket.

However, Guillory's attorney, Frank Dawkins, claimed the donations were split, with $50,000 going to the fundraisers and Guillory keeping the other half.

On the separate matter of the bid-fixing scheme, Guillory addressed the court saying former employee Garnette Thomas - who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in September - was responsible for most of the falsified bids, which were crafted in order to benefit one company identified in court records as "K.A." That contractor, based on an IND investigation, is Kendall Anderson of Anderson Iron Works. Anderson has not been charged in the case.

"Once I noticed the bid laws were not being followed, I talked to [Thomas] and made sure we started getting three bids," said Guillory. "My name was forged on some of those documents. I had an idea ... an inclination that bid law was not being followed when I saw that one contractor was being awarded all the work."

According to U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote, Guillory faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for bribery and up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the bid-fixing scheme. Foote also ordered a $100,000 forfeiture of Guillory's assets.

Following Friday's court proceedings, Guillory was aloof, declining to respond to questions from the local media.

Guillory's sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 11, at 1 p.m.

Just how high corruption at the two housing authorities will be traced could largely depend on what Guillory has to say now that he has agreed to cooperate fully in the investigation. It's  likely the feds have set their sights on bigger fish in the bid-fixing scheme.

Sources close to the investigation tell The IND additional charges and/or indictments are expected in the case. Read more here.

Guillory also was subpoenaed recently as a possible witness in the upcoming case between former City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams and the LHA. Read more on that here.