THE INVESTIGATORS: Twin brothers accused of stealing $800k from Louisiana out on bond
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The twin brothers accused of defrauding the state of Louisiana out of more than $800,000 have been released from jail after being arrested Friday, July 9, 2021.
A spokesman with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office tells the 9News Investigators the brothers were released after paying a $200,000 bond. Two others who were arrested in connection to the alleged scheme, Bernard Christmas and Ava Richardson were released on a $100,000 bond. Two others, Phillip Sibley and Stacy Smith, were out of town but are expected to turn themselves in to the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office sometime today.
Thomas McCormick and his twin brother Robert McCormick were indicted Friday on several charges including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering.
Robert worked for the State Fire Marshal’s Office during the storms and according to the indictment, the brothers allegedly created some companies and worked with other existing companies to do business with the state.
One of the accused men spoke exclusively to WAFB’s Scottie Hunter as he was hauled away in handcuffs late Friday evening.
Scottie: “What do you have to say about the charges against you?”
McCormick: “Don’t believe everything you hear sir.”
Scottie: “Did you have anything to say besides don’t believe everything you hear?”
McCormick: “No sir. Obviously these situations are all tough so the lawyer said don’t say anything. We’ll wait and have our day in court but I just ask that you reserve judgment and don’t believe everything you read, okay.”
“The time that they did this. The fact that it happened during a time when we’re suffering one of the worst storms in the history of the state.. I mean the evidence will show that this was an egregious act,” District Attorney Tony Clayton said.
From August 2020 to April 2021 prosecutors allege the men used their positions to steal the money and cover it up. Robert, who worked for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, allegedly used his role to bill the state for countless items related to relief and recovery. That money was then funneled directly into three different companies that then paid the funds to his brother Thomas and the McCormick Law Firm. Prosecutors say they were able to unravel the alleged fraud thanks to the help of the Legislative Auditor’s Office.
“They uncovered the scheme several months ago and they contact us and they went undercover and they continued to monitor it,” Clayton added.
The pair, along with four others, face money laundering, racketeering, and other charges tied to the alleged plot that was uncovered in West Baton Rouge. In one instance the brothers are accused of buying 16,000 water bottles at 13 cents apiece and then selling them to the state for $1.50 per bottle. Prosecutors say that one scheme allowed the men to allegedly steal more than $180,000 from the state that records show they used for things like car notes, tuition, and credit card payments.
The alleged scheme involved three West Baton Rouge businesses; Gifts Unlimited, Westside Services, and Emergency Logistics Solutions. The five other people involved in the alleged plot include Phillip Sibley, Stacy Smith, Dean Smith, Bernard Christmas, and Ava Richardson.
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