Caddo Parish commissioner says he’s resigning after pleading guilty to wire fraud

Caddo Parish Commissioner for District 6 Lynn Cawthorne
Caddo Parish Commissioner for District 6 Lynn Cawthorne(Caddo Parish Commission)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 3:30 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2021 at 5:00 PM CST

CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Caddo Parish Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne, who represents District 6, is resigning, the Caddo Parish Commission announced Monday, Nov. 8.

Once the paperwork and notice of vacancy are received from the Louisiana secretary of state’s office, the commission will take the legally required steps.

According the Louisiana law, the commission will need to appoint an interim commissioner within 20 days of getting the notice of vacancy. If an interim commissioner is not appointed within the given time frame, the governor will appoint a person of his choosing.

Due to the amount of time remaining in Cawthorne’s term, the commission also must call a special election. The next primary election dates are March 26, 2022, and Nov. 8, 2022.

Just days ago, Cawthorne and his sister Belena Turner pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with their involvement in a scheme to defraud the Food and Nutrition Service, which is a USDA agency that administers child nutrition programs.

Cawthorne faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He was indicted in August 2018 in relation to the scheme.

In 2019, federal investigators found that over a four-year period, Cawthorne and his sister had been stealing money from the child nutrition program for their own personal use. Prosecutors claim that the two stole more than $500,000. The government and defendants agreed that the loss amount caused by the scheme would be determined at sentencing.

Cawthorne also pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and assisting in making and subscribing a false tax return in relation to a separate indictment returned against him in December 2019. In connection with the tax fraud charge, Cawthorne admitted to filing a 2013 tax return showing a gross income much lower than what he actually made that year, with some of that income stemming from a business related to the nutrition program scheme.

Turner and Cawthorne could both serve up to 20 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for the wire fraud. Cawthorne also faces up to three years in prison, a $100,000 fine or both for the tax fraud.

Both are set to be sentenced March 16, 2022.

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