Walter Guillory sentenced to 28 months

by Leslie Turk

Former housing director will serve more than two years in prison for taking $100,000 in bribes and participating in bid-fixing scheme.

Former housing authority Executive Director Walter Guillory will spend 28 months behind bars for accepting bribes and rigging bids to favor Anderson Iron Works.
Photo by Robin May

Former housing director will serve more than two years in prison for taking $100,000 in bribes and participating in bid-fixing scheme.

Walter Guillory was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison and one year of supervised release for receiving bribes while running the housing authorities in Lafayette and Opelousas and for his role in a conspiracy to manipulate the public bid process to award projects to a single contractor, Anderson Iron Works of Opelousas. Guillory pleaded guilty in May.

Guillory, 51, served as the executive director of the Lafayette Housing Authority from 1998 to 2010, and in a similar and overlapping role at the Opelousas Housing Authority from 2005 to 2009.

The Advocate reports that U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote sentenced Guillory to two concurrent 28-month terms, meaning he will serve both sentences at the same time:

Foote said federal sentencing guidelines suggested a range of 57 to 71 months for Guillory, but noted that prosecutor Kelly Uebinger requested a reduced sentence because of Guillory's assistance in an ongoing probe into public housing.

Neither Foote nor Uebinger mentioned the names of others who might be accused in the investigation.

"The government (prosecutors) has stressed the courage of your actions ...," Foote said.

Guillory resigned from the Lafayette Housing Authority 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. Williams was fired along with the other case workers.

Guillory's illegal activities came to light later, after the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stepped in to investigate.

According to evidence presented at his guilty plea in February, Guillory, while heading the agencies funded by HUD, sponsored a local "baseball team" and solicited donations from various vendors and contractors of both the LHA and the OHA for the baseball team. 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.

From 2006 to 2010, the vendors were expected to make yearly donations in exchange for doing business with the housing authorities. Some of the contributions were spent on personal expenses and not for the baseball team. Guillory admitted to soliciting and receiving more than $100,000 in bribes from the vendors between 2006 and 2010.

Guillory also admitted to conspiring with others to circumvent bid laws in order to award construction contracts to one company, Anderson Iron Works, which performed construction work for OHA. Guillory and others used the fake bids to make it appear that several companies were placing bids on construction projects, when there was only one company being considered. In addition, they used interstate wire communication facilities including email transmissions for a variety of purposes, which involved sending and receiving emails related to contracts and false bids.

Guillory approved these contracts with full knowledge that the bid rules, laws and regulations were not being followed from 2007 to 2009.

Photo by Robin May

In a tersely worded bill of information filed March 17, the U.S. Attorney's office charged contractor Kendall T. Anderson of Anderson Iron Works with a single count of misprision of a felony in connection with the ongoing probe. The following month the Scott businessman pleaded guilty.

Anderson, who until he was charged was identified in court documents only as "K.A.," provided false information to the OHA and failed to report that bids were being manipulated by former OHA employee Garnette Thomas. Thomas, now 75, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in September. Read more here and here.

Guillory, who has been living and working as a car washer for an automobile dealer in Lake Charles in recent years, according to The Advertiser, must report to prison July 14.

The FBI and HUD conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly P. Uebinger prosecuted the case.