Indicted Caddo commissioner's nonprofit had deals with parish entities, City of Shreveport
CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - It could be months, maybe years, before a jury decides whether Caddo Parish Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne and his sister Belena C. Turner are guilty of stealing more than $536,000 of federal taxpayer money.
Since news of his indictment by federal grand jury broke in April, Cawthorne has kept mostly quiet.
Both the commissioner and Turner denied the charges against them when pleading not guilty alongside their attorneys May 10.
Their next court date is June 21.
Meantime, KSLA Investigates is learning more about United Citizen & Neighborhoods (UCAN) that landed the brother-sister duo in hot water.
That search uncovered contracts with the parish and city paying the nonprofit a total of $60,000 over three years.
The Caddo Parish deals in 2013, 2014 and 2015 netted UCAN $10,000 each year.
Under the contracts, Cawthorne's and Turner's organization is charged with promoting economic development by assisting minority business owners, including the State of Black Shreveport symposium in 2015.
The ink on UCAN's agreements with the City of Shreveport also dried in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with those deals paying the nonprofit $10,000 a year out of the city's riverfront development special revenue fund.
Officials with Caddo Parish and the Shreveport council's Riverfront Community Committee did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
According to a UCAN 2013 year-end audit, Cawthorne's and Turner's nonprofit spent more than $8,000 of the city's funds and almost $7,000 in parish cash on advertising, gifts, travel and the like.
A 2014 audit shows UCAN spending almost $8,500 of city money on items such as gifts, rent and supplies.
It appears that money from the parish and city was paid to UCAN before Cawthorne took his seat on the Caddo Commission, according to the audit.
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