More than a week after Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center stunned Baton Rouge with the announcement that it had fired the longtime CEO of its foundation, John Paul Funes, for forgery and embezzlement, hospital officials have said precious little to shed additional light on the case, giving rise to speculation and raising additional questions about the extent of the scandal and potential involvement of others.
A criminal investigation by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, is technically open but has yet to get underway, as investigators are still waiting on financial documents from the hospital. Funes, who, sources say admitted some wrongdoing to his former employer, has yet to be interviewed or even contacted by law enforcement.
But East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore, who was originally contacted on Nov. 5 by OLOL executives and referred the matter the following day to the sheriff’s office, says it’s not unusual for investigators to move slowly in such situations and cautions against reading anything into the cone of silence that’s surrounding the scandal.
“I think OLOL has gone above and beyond and it is very important for the future of fundraising and the whole medical corridor,” he says. “I take my hat off to them.”
An out-of-state firm conducting a routine audit of the $42 million OLOL Foundation’s books first uncovered evidence of wrongdoing, Moore says. A separate firm is now doing an in-depth forensic audit, he says, adding investigators are waiting on documentation they need to conduct interviews.
“You don’t want to go interview someone without having evidence because you won’t know whether they are telling the truth,” he says. “That’s especially the case when you’re talking about years of transactions and bank records.”
Moore predicts the investigation will “not be quick.” However, EBRSO Spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks says that “it could take several weeks or more.” Funes’ attorney, former U.S. Attorney Walt Green, declines to comment.