National Roundup

Louisiana

Former banker pleads guilty to embezzlement

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) -- A former president of Farmer's State Bank has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 in bank funds from July 1998 through January 2004.

The Advocate reports Steve J. Broussard entered a guilty plea in federal court Monday to one count of misapplication by a bank employee and officer, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years.

Broussard had resigned from the Church Point bank about four years before he was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2008 on 14 counts of misapplication by a bank employee and officer in excess of $1,000 and eight counts for less than $1,000.

According to the factual basis for his guilty plea, Broussard admitted to embezzling and willfully misapplying $119,981 in funds, credits and money, of which $104,349 is owed in restitution to the bank.

Among the ways the money was spent:

-- Broussard hired three men as contract laborers for the bank and then directed them to spend about 30 percent of their time working on his personal property, although they were being paid by the bank, the filing says.

From 1998 through 2004, Elroy Meche, Felton James Bellard and Joseph Charlot were paid $231,750, of which $69,254 went toward work performed on Broussard's property, the filing says.

--Between June 2002 and September 2004, Broussard fraudulently received $38,930 in cash advances from ATMs using his bank-issued credit card and a bank-issued card linked to an ATM testing account at the bank, the filing says.

Of that, $24,705 has not been repaid to the bank, the filing says.

--From September 1998 through December 2003, Broussard had the bank purchase $13,149 in cooking supplies for the Circle S Cooking Team, one of his private activities.

Only about 50 percent of the team's activities served a legitimate bank purpose, the filing says.

--Between November 2002 and December 2002, Broussard directed the bank to give out a loan to newly elected Church Point City Councilman Melckisadech Green in order to gain influence on the city council, the filing says.

Green did not qualify for the loan, which ultimately cost the bank $1,294 when Green defaulted and failed to repay it, the filing says.

--Between January 1999 and July 2004, Broussard charged $1,715 to his bank-issued credit card for unauthorized personal items at Wal-Mart, the filing says.

Broussard will be sentenced at a later date.

Pennsylvania

Ex-Rite Aid exec released after re-sentencing

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A former Rite Aid Corp. executive has been freed following a resentencing hearing in an accounting scandal that saw him spend nearly six years in prison.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reports a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced 83-year-old former vice chairman Franklin Brown to time-served and ordered him released from federal custody.

Brown was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking part in a $1.6 billion accounting scandal that severely hurt Rite Aid's stock. An appeals court in May overturned his sentence.

Brown will remain on probation for a year. He declined comment to The Patriot-News following his hearing.

The scandal cost Rite Aid an estimated $18 million.

Pennsylvania

Police seek im po s tor who claimed Pa. club's prize

CORRY, Pa. (AP) -- State police in northwestern Pennsylvania are searching for a jackpot impostor.

Police say someone pretended to be another man when he collected the $750 daily jackpot at the Veterans of Foreign Wars club in Corry last week.

The Erie Times-News reports club officials discovered they had been duped on Monday when 67-year-old Malcolm Johnson came to the club to collect his winnings from Friday's drawing.

That's when club officials told Johnson that another man using his name, address and Social Security number had come to the club last week and signed to collect the jackpot.

Police say the real Johnson has gray hair, glasses and walks without assistance. The impostor has dark hair, no glasses and uses a cane.

New York

Headgear ban at amusement park sparks scuffles

NEW YORK (AP) -- A ban on religious and other head coverings on rides at a suburban amusement park on Tuesday sparked scuffles leading to 15 arrests.

Rye Playland, just north of New York City, was crowded with roughly 3,000 visitors from a Muslim tour group celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Islam's holy month of fasting, Ramadan.

Disputes broke out after women wearing traditional Muslim scarves called hijabs tried to get on rides that prohibit any head coverings for safety reasons, Westchester County officials said. The women were offered refunds. But then male and female visitors started to argue among themselves, according to a statement from the county executive's office. Two park rangers who intervened were injured and were hospitalized.

The tour operator, the Muslim American Society of New York, had been advised of the rule numerous times before the event, parks Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The group did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday night.

Tartaglia defended the policy against head coverings on rides as a safety precaution. He said scarves can become entangled in mechanical parts, choke riders or fly off and land in a ride's tracks. He faulted the tour operator for not ensuring the visitors understood the policy.

"We respect the religious purpose of wearing it, but we have several rides that you cannot go on with any sort of headgear," he said.

The park entrance was closed for two hours as police responded to the scene. More than 6,000 people were in the park at the time.

Tartaglia said all the people arrested were later released. Westchester County officials would not say what the charges against them were.

Published: Thu, Sep 1, 2011

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