Former Pearl River Town Clerk Pleads Guilty to Felony Theft and Promises Restitution after Investigative Audit

LLA Press Release – 9/3/15

Former Pearl River Town Clerk Dianne Bennett Hollie pled guilty Thursday to one count of felony theft and three other criminal counts, after a 2014 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s investigative audit uncovered evidence prompting a St. Tammany Parish grand jury to indict both Hollie and the former mayor of Pearl River, James Lavigne, this past October. Hollie’s plea and her promise to pay restitution totaling more than $8,200 means she will avoid serving up to 15 years in jail. The former Pearl River mayor is expected to appear in court later this month.

Allegations from the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany to the Legislative Auditor prompted a May 2014 investigative audit which revealed Hollie had used $5,215 in Town of Pearl River funds from March 2012 through July 2013 to buy building supplies and pool equipment for her personal residence. The audit stated that Hollie had ordered town employees to pick up the supplies and deliver them to her residence during their work hours. In the audit report, both Hollie and Pearl River Mayor James Lavigne said they used those Town funds for those personal purchases in order to avoid paying sales taxes. The audit further found that Hollie had received eight extra payroll checks totaling $7,896 between March 2012 and August 2013. In October 2014, a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Hollie and Lavigne on theft and malfeasance charges.

Investigative auditors from the Legislative Auditor’s office were in the 22nd Judicial District courtroom Thursday morning when Hollie pled guilty to one count each of: felony theft; felony unauthorized use of a moveable; misdemeanor theft; and misdemeanor unauthorized use of a moveable. Hollie, who has no prior record, had already reimbursed the Town $3,834. The former Town Clerk will pay a total of $7,896 in restitution for felony theft, related to the extra payroll checks, and $346 for the taxes not paid on personal purchases using Town funds.

Lavigne, the former Pearl River mayor, is expected to return to court September 28, 2015 to face criminal charges, including unauthorized use of a movable, malfeasance, and theft over $500. Both Hollie and Lavigne currently face state ethics charges lodged against them in July.


2 Responses to “Former Pearl River Town Clerk Pleads Guilty to Felony Theft and Promises Restitution after Investigative Audit”

  1. bohica Says:

    (boom boom boom) Another one bites the dust

  2. oldman Says:

    Yes but I’m sure somebody else will take their place. It’s something about public office that makes good people do bad things.

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