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UPDATE: Jonesboro Mayor Trial Continues with Witness Testimony

Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson's trial continued today with more testimony from witnesses.
UPDATE, 9:30 PM

The senior legislative auditor on the Jonesboro case, Kunta Osberry, is being questioned by the defense and prosecution.

He's bringing even more allegations against Thompson.

In his report on the town, Osberry said there were 75 cases in which more documentation was needed.

Osberry also reported in court how there were 59 unpaid 2008 property taxes where the error was on the town's behalf because payments did not get posted to the system.

Osberry also talked about a June 2010 gospel concert that the city sold tickets for. Osberry said the concert made more than $3,600 in ticket sales that was never documented by the city.

Thompson's defense attorney said these are side issues that don't address the main charges.

"Painting a picture of the mayor, or attempting to paint a picture of the mayor, but later on, we'll get to some more substantive issues and then we'll make our decision regarding exactly what defense we're going to present," Mayor Thompson's Defense Attorney, Louis Scott, said.

Some Jonesboro residents were quick to chime in that these issues are not solely the mayor's fault.

"It was not just the mayor there. It was also the aldermen as well as the chief of police, so I think all of them should be here," Jonesboro native Riffiale Patrick said. "Anybody was going to be on trial, everybody should be."

"You can't watch everybody," echoed Jonesboro resident Vernelle Lewis. "If you need somebody like that, you need to hire somebody that can take that time and watch everybody 24 hours a day."

Still, Thompson stands charged with three counts of malfeasance in office, accused by the state of taking more than $52,000 from Jonesboro.

The trial will reconvene on Tuesday.

SATURDAY, 8/31:

The trial continues on Saturday, with more witnesses being questioned.

The defense and prosecution spent more than an hour questioning Kevin Kelley, a manager of the investigative audit.

Kelley went over different things that he found wrong in the report. There were two main issues with the town's money that they discussed.

One was the 2010 inauguration of the the mayor, the Jonesboro police chief and town alderman. Kelley said more than $2,500 in public funds was used to pay for that celebration. Kelley said that was wrong.

Another issue he discussed was that there were several transactions for services with the city that had improper documentation. Kelley said these transactions were recorded with canceled checks.

Kelley said that the State Legislative Auditor's office goes by the opinion of the Louisiana Attorney General's office, and he said the AG's office opinion says that is improper documentation.

Kelley said the opinion demands a third party invoice for proper documentation. As of 10:30 a.m., Kelley has now been officially released as a witness. Thompson's defense says they expect the trial to go until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Keep checking back to this article for updates throughout the day on the trial.

FRIDAY, 8/30:


The focus for all of day five in the trial on Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson was hearing witness testimony from auditors.

Daryl Purpera and Kevin Kelly were two of the prosecution's witnesses that testified on Friday. These Louisiana Legislative Auditors testified that over $475,000 was spent by their office to investigate Jonesboro's finances.

Purpera claimed the investigation was done to keep the town transparent and accountable. He also testified on an untimely response by the town in the overall audit process. He cited a letter from Mayor Thompson to the auditors, requesting an extension in one of the annual audit deadlines in order to keep the city off of the non-compliance list, apparently software problems were to blame for the town's slow progress.

Starting in 2008, the annual financial report showed a "disclaimer of opinion" for Jonesboro, basically saying that there was not enough documentation for the auditors to perform an audit. Missing contracts, invoices, and manual checks... 172 out of 435 investigated financial documents could not be found in the town's records, according to witness testimony.

"The production of evidence and putting witnesses on the stand, we've ensured that it's very thorough," said Lea Hall, Assistant District Attorney.

In those 172 documents, more than $300,000 of the town's money was unaccounted for.

Auditor Kelly testified to suspicious looking documents, referring to transactions on a supermarket credit card in the name of the town of Jonesboro. The card's statements showed the amount spent. But there were no receipts to show what items were purchased. Over 50 witnesses were sworn in on Thursday. And so far, 3 have testified: the jackson parish sheriff and two auditors.

"Everything is moving right along in court," commented Carol Powell Lexing, Defense Attorney.

"The case is proceeding at a pace that I can't predict," said Hall.

Court will resume on Saturday morning at 9AM.
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