Whistleblower opens up about possible Many PD funds misuse - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Whistleblower opens up about possible Many PD funds misuse

Many, La.  (Source: KSLA News 12) Many, La. (Source: KSLA News 12)
"I just want people to be accountable for their actions," said Daphne Levenson, who considers herself a whistleblower for bringing the issues to authorities' attention. (Source: KSLA News 12) "I just want people to be accountable for their actions," said Daphne Levenson, who considers herself a whistleblower for bringing the issues to authorities' attention. (Source: KSLA News 12)
MANY, LA (KSLA) -

A whistleblower who alerted authorities about possible misuse of public funds surrounding the Many Police Department is opening up about her frustration with what appears to be slow progress in the investigation. 

In 2015, a state investigative audit accused the Many Police Department of misusing thousands of taxpayer dollars. 

State investigative auditors say the town may have overspent public funds and failed to collect money it was owed as a result of cooperative endeavor agreements with Northwestern State University, according to an investigative audit released in August 2015 by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office.

Two years later, the case has not been prosecuted and remains pending. 

That's a source of frustration for Daphne Levenson, who considers herself a whistleblower for bringing the issues to authorities' attention.

"I just want people to be accountable for their actions."

Assistant Police Chief Pauline Snell, who is at the center of the auditor's investigation, was put on leave in 2015 and now no longer is with the Police Department, Many Police Chief Roger Freeman confirmed Tuesday. 

The report focuses on federal grant money used to pay for the now-defunct joint program between the Police Department and Northwestern State called the Gulf States Regional Center for Public Safety Innovations (GSRCPI) to host law enforcement training workshops.

From 2003 to 2013, the town worked with the university to make the GSRCPI program possible through a cooperative endeavor agreement to loan Police Department employees to the program.

The program was funded through a federal grant.

According to auditors, the town paid salaries and benefits to town employees loaned to the GSRCPI program and submitted invoices to the university requesting reimbursement.

But auditors found that Snell, who worked with the program as assistant director, allegedly was double dipping by getting paid an inflated salary on the taxpayers' dime and even getting paid after being let go from the program, among other things listed in the audit. 

Auditors found Snell was paid as a full-time town employee at the same time she was paid as a full-time employee of GSRCPI but failed to complete time sheets or document hours worked as the town's assistant police chief.

By paying Snell without documentation backing up the hours she worked, town leaders may have violated state law.

Levenson was the director at the time of the GSRCPI and says she followed proper protocol when she found out something wasn't quite right.

"I can't walk away from somebody doing that. I would have exploded or had a stroke."

Levenson has been interviewed several times by separate agencies. 

"We gave them the copies of the checks, the W2 forms, all of it."

And she is disappointed nothing has happened after two years since the audit was released.

"I find it really frustrating that nobody cares.

"We've done depositions I don't know how many times," Levenson continued. "I keep on saying 'Why can't you go to the inspector general's office or the FBI's office and get a copy of the original deposition? Why do we once a year have to all go back and do all this again and get all of the paperwork again'?"

She says the situation has caused her and her family stress.

"I don't feel like there has been any support for us trying to do the right thing and tell the truth. It's almost like we are being punished."

At least one group is moving forward trying to recoup money.

The Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System voted last year to terminate Snell's retirement benefits and is suing her to recover $180,000.

"All I have ever wanted is for the money to be repaid to the appropriate people and the appropriate places," Levenson said. 

The MPERS lawsuit has yet to make it to court. 

KSLA News 12 has made attempts and continues to try to reach Snell for a comment.  

Sabine Parish District Attorney Don Burkett says the case is in the hands of the feds.

"When the report came out it involved federal funds, there was a joint meeting between myself, the US attorneys office, an FBI rep, Louisiana auditors office, and the inspector general," he said.

"After reviewing everything, the best agency to look into the matter was the US Attorney's office in Shreveport. To the best of my knowledge they are still actively looking into the matter."

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