State IG: Walter Reed paid $52,000 by Causeway Commission; did no work

Walter Reed leaving the federal courthouse in New Orleans on Monday

BATON ROUGE – A scathing new report by the Office of the State Inspector General details some of the criminal activity former District Attorney Walter Reed is accused of orchestrating.

Reed was sentenced to 48 months in prison last week after being found guilty last year of 18 of the 19 fraud charges brought against him in federal court.

Jurors found Reed guilty of using campaign donations to pay for a list of personal expenses, including dinners, birthday parties and flowers. In some of the expenditures, the money was paid to his son for services that were either never performed or were provided but for a value far below the amount spent.

Reed was also convicted for his role in providing legal services for St. Tammany Parish Hospital.

The State IG’s report, which was released today, deals with a sum of $52,000 from the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission that Reed claimed on Board of Ethics Disclosure Reports.

“The Causeway Commission has no record of any payment to Reed and the general manager of the Causeway Commission told OIG investigators that he knows of no legal or other services provided to the Causeway Commission by Reed for which he would have been paid,” Inspector General Stephen Street wrote in the report.

The money was instead paid to J. William Becknell II, an attorney whose firm was employed as contract counsel by the Causeway Commission, between June 2008 and May 2014, according to the report.

“Examination of billing invoices submitted by the Becknell law firm to the Causeway Commission and checks issued by the Becknell firm to Reed show that the firm paid Reed 30% of the fees it received from the Causeway Commission over a three year period,” Street wrote in the report. “This percentage was later reduced to 20% over a subsequent two year period.”

The IG’s office could not find evidence of any legal work or other services provided by Reed for the Commission.

During the investigation, Becknell admitted that he paid Reed a portion of his fees despite Reed not doing any work.

When the Causeway Commission learned that Reed was being paid under the table by Becknell, Becknell’s contract was immediately terminated, according to the report.

“OIG found no evidence of improper or illegal activity by any commissioners or the current management of the Causeway Commission,” according to the report.