REPORT: Former Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland may have violated state law

Local News

(11/18/2019) — According to a newly released report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office on the Town of Sterlington, former Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland may have violated the law.

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Vern Breland, former Sterlington Mayor

The report also says Aaron Fletcher, the town’s municipal advisor on eight bonds and financial advisor on two lease purchases from 2013 to 2018, may have violated state and federal law.

CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE FULL REPORT FROM THE STATE AUDITOR’S OFFICE

Here is the complete executive summary from the report:

Incorrect Financial Information Used to Obtain Bonds

Incorrect Financial Information Used to Obtain Bonds

The Town of Sterlington (Town) engaged a municipal advisor to prepare financial projections that were submitted to the Louisiana State Bond Commission when the Town was seeking approval to incur bonded debt. These projections were also provided to financial institutions that purchased the bonds and were based on information that, in some cases, overstated actual revenue and understated actual expenditures when compared to audited financial reports and/or Town records that were available when the projections were made. If the municipal advisor knowingly submitted financial projections based on incorrect financial information to the State Bond Commission and financial institutions, the municipal advisor may have violated state and federal law.

Improper Use of Bond Proceeds

At Mayor Vern Breland’s direction, the Town spent $3,118,103 from bond proceeds that were inconsistent with the stated purpose of the bond between January 4, 2016 and September 10, 2018. State law provides that proceeds from the sale of bonds be used exclusively for the purpose for which the bonds are authorized to be issued. By continuing to direct the improper use the bond proceeds after receiving a finding in the Town’s 2016 annual audit, Mayor Breland may have violated state law.

Lease Purchases Were Not Publicly Bid

The Town had two lease purchase agreements for Sterlington Sports Complex lighting and a water management system that were not publicly bid, which may violate state law. In addition, the Town spent some of the loan proceeds from the water management lease purchase on items that were not covered in the price quote. Since the Town does not have sufficient funds to complete the water management system that was financed by the lease purchase, the Town will not generate the additional revenue to pay the amount due on the lease purchase.

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