Report: Jindal ally pleads guilty to post-Katrina fraud
Jay Vise Reporting
Federal prosecutors have charged New Orleans businessman Praveen Kailas with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government funds, according to a WWL-TV report.
WWL-TV’s David Hammer reports Kailas, one of the Metro area’s biggest land owners and developers, pleaded guilty on August 1 in New Orleans federal court. The case was unsealed today by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance.
There is no indication that Gov. Jindal benefitted from, or knew of, the alleged fraud.
Federal authorities launched a probe following an extensive investigative report by WWL-TV’s Hammer about alleged extensive over-billing by Kailas’s construction company.
Hammer found evidence that Lago Construction fraudulently billed taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of hours for work on the Small Rental Property Program, hours which evidence showed the employees were actually working on other projects.
The report says Kailas and his family “have been close with Jindal through southeast Louisiana’s small Indian community for decades,” and that “the family has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Jindal’s campaigns over the years, including office space and supplies for his victory parties.”
Kailas reportedly has now admitted to overbilling taxpayers for six Lago employees to the tune of $236,000.