(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to include comments from LSU.)
The fired, former chief fundraiser for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, John Paul Funes, allegedly embezzled $810,000 from the OLOL Foundation over several years, forged signatures, and acted alone, according to the findings of a months-long audit.
OLOL officials issued a statement late today outlining the key points of the audit, which was conducted by Deloitte and has been underway since Funes was fired last November from his position as president and CEO of the foundation.
According to the release, Funes allegedly orchestrated a series of fraudulent transactions that involved the purchase and distribution of gift cards, charter flights and payments to individuals, using forged documents, invoices and signatures.
“He misled hundreds of people in and outside of our organization,” the statement says.
Significantly, the statement also suggests what has been rumored for months—that LSU athletics may have been somehow involved.
“The forensic investigation also revealed two questionable issues that warranted we notify legal counsel for LSU,” the statement reads. “Since we are not involved and the outcome does not impact our operations, we will not have any further details or comments on this issue.”
In a statement, LSU says it has been aware of the findings since late last year and reported both to the NCAA. One of the findings is not believed to a matter of compliance or NCAA issue. The second involves the hiring of a parent a former LSU student-athlete from 2012-2015. The university is working with the NCAA to resolve the issue and will have no further comment, the statement says.
OLOL says it will replace the missing funds within 30 days and will seek restitution from Funes, who is under state and federal investigation for the alleged activity.
The statement also says OLOL will “do everything we can to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Our donors’ contributions are safe and being used with integrity and responsible purpose. The work we’ve done with the third-party audit has given us a clear roadmap to address the vulnerabilities Mr. Funes exposed. We’ve already begun immediate changes including additional approvals for expenditures and more oversight on adherence to our policies and processes.”
(Disclosure: Julio Melara, who is OLOL board chairman, is president and CEO of Louisiana Business Inc., parent of Daily Report.)