DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A Desoto Parish grand jury has indicted Walter C. Lee on various charges related to his conduct as the former superintendent of the Desoto Parish Schools System.
According to a statement released by DeSoto Parish early Friday afternoon, the indictments are for two counts of felony theft, public contract fraud, and malfeasance in office. The following is the full statement:
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor began investigating Lee during 2013, after officials found certain irregularities during a routine audit of Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's records. Lee was then, and is still, serving as a member of BESE. The irregularities indicated that Lee had double-billed the parish school board and BESE for travel expenses.
The indictments for felony theft allege that Lee failed to reimburse the parish school system $3,968 for fuel expenditures and $1,578 for lodging and meals. The public contract indictment concerns Lee's actions related to a vehicle leased on behalf of the school system. Lee terminated the lease early, costing the school system approximately $10,000. Lee then received a substantial discount on another vehicle that he purchased shortly after concluding the previous deal. The grand jury's final indictment alleges that Lee committed malfeasance in office by intentionally performing his duties as superintendent in an unlawful manner.
Desoto parish District Attorney Richard Z. Johnson, Jr, whose office convened the grand jury, noted that the charges are particularly disturbing because they concern public corruption. "Public officials are required to carry out their duties in a way that encourages the support and confidence of the community. That was not done here. We must take these acts seriously because to do otherwise would undermine the public's trust."
In light of the indictments, Lee will be arrested on all four charges.
Lee retired as superintendent of DeSoto schools in November 2012. Before that, he served as superintendent of Caddo schools. He remains on the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. According to BESE Communication Director Kevin Calbert, Lee, who represents the 4th district, will remain on the board unless he receives a felony conviction or pleads guilty.