Caddo Parish commissioner indicted, accused of stealing from non-profit

Caddo Parish commissioner indicted, accused of stealing from non-profit
Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Williams (D) was elected to the District 3 seat in 2012.
Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Williams (D) was elected to the District 3 seat in 2012.

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A federal grand jury has indicted Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Dwayne Williams for defrauding the Caddo Parish Commission and stealing from a nonprofit meant to help at-risk youth.

According to United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Williams, 54, of Shreveport, was indicted on 12 counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges that from October 1, 2012 through July 1, 2014, Williams devised a scheme to take more than $2,000 from a nonprofit's bank account.

Williams allegedly urged the parish commission to appropriate public funds for the nonprofit 'SWAG Nation.'

Once those funds were allocated from the parish's budget to SWAG Nation, Finley says Williams caused a bank debit card to be issued for the nonprofit.

"Between April of 2013 and July of 2014, Williams used an ATM card to remove money on numerous occasions. According to the indictment, he took $100 to $200 each time that he made a withdrawal initializing 12 transactions from August 2013 to June 2014 for personal use. SWAG Nation's declared purpose is to partner with local institutions to help mentor and counsel at-risk individuals ages 7 to 17 so that they can better function in society."

Finley's statement included a quote from Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.

“The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office investigated Michael Williams for several months and is pleased with the return of this indictment,” said Prator. “Unfortunately, there are people elected to office who will abuse the public's trust. This money was meant for children, not politicians.”

"I'm proud of our deputies who investigated this, proud of the FBI and the US attorney's office, look forward to a successful conclusion of the trial," said Prator.

But Williams' denies abusing the public's trust, his attorney released this statement:

"Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael D. Williams denies allegations that he devised a scheme to defraud either the Caddo Parish Commission or the community organization known as SWAG Nation. The allegations arise out of an investigation by the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office and were presented to a Federal Grand Jury that returned the indictment accusing Commissioner Williams of 12 counts of wire fraud connected to his use of a bank debit card issued to SWAG Nation.

Commissioner Williams denies abusing the public's trust, and that SWAG Nation received any funds from the Parish Commission before it delivered the services that SWAG Nation had contracted to provide. Those services include: providing mentoring, counseling, and training to at-risk youth referred to SWAG Nation.

As the U.S. Attorney's Press Release notes, an indictment is merely an accusation. An indictment is not proof of guilt."

Williams faces up to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The FBI and Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph G. Jarzabek and Brandon B. Brown are prosecuting the case.

Copyright 2015 KSLA. All rights reserved.