Abita Springs, Louisiana, was charged today (August 29, 2019) by a federal grand jury in a 16-count Indictment with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, soliciting a bribe, and offering a bribe. The charges are for his role in the privatization and operation of a work release program that operated in Slidell, Louisiana between 2013 and 2016.
Documents reflect that Strain, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff from 1996 to 2016, decided to privatize the work release program. Strain and two of his close associates with the STPSO, David Hanson and Clifford “Skip” Keen, agreed to make Keen’s adult son (J.K.) and Hanson’s adult daughter (B.H.) owners of the Slidell work release program, with the understanding that J.K. and B.H. would funnel much of the profits to Hanson and Keen. Hanson and Keen agreed to give regular payoffs to Strain and his selected family members from the funds they received.
St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC was created to operate the program. The newly-formed company was owned by J.K. (45%), B.K. (45%), and the actual operator of the program (10%) who is only identified as Person 2.
On June 4, 2013, Strain entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement on behalf of STPSO with St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC. Thereafter, numerous persons reportedly received payments. J.K. and B.H. received at least $1,195,000, much of which they transferred to their fathers. A younger relative of Strain's received $30,000 per year for a no-show job at the facility. Payoffs to Strain took multiple forms: regular cash payments of at least approximately $1000, a $4000 check to Strain's son as a kickback, and $2500 in campaign funds.
Hanson and Keen were charged for their roles in the scheme in November 2018. They pleaded guilty on February 27, 2019, and are currently awaiting sentencing before United States District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle.
If convicted, Strain faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years for Count 1, twenty years for each of Counts 2 through 13, and ten years for each of Counts 14 through 16. He also faces, per count, a fine of up to $250,000, three years supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment per count.
U. S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that an Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and thanks the Metropolitan Crime Commission for its assistance. Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, Supervisor of the Public Corruption Unit, and Elizabeth Privitera, Supervisor of the Violent Crime Unit, are in charge of the prosecution.
Click here to read the indictment and additional details.
Strain was indicted on June 11, 2019 by a St. Tammany Parish grand jury on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and sexual battery. Strain pled not guilty to the charges. Click here to read the story.