FBI investigating former Cameron Parish official - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

FBI investigating former Cameron Parish official

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

HACKBERRY, La (KPLC-TV) – The Cameron Parish District Attorney's office and Cameron Parish Ambulance Dist. No 2 filed a lawsuit to recover nearly $400,000 they say was embezzled by the former director of Cameron Parish Ambulance Dist. No. 2, Stephen Kershaw, and accountants working for his office.

The problems began to surface last spring, when the FBI seized financial records from the District's headquarters in Hackberry.

At the time, no one was sure what agents were looking for, but soon it became clear.

According to Cameron Parish District Attorney Cecil Sanner, after federal agents visited, District No. 2 board members started to become aware of possible fraud and embezzlement committed by Kershaw.

According to court documents obtained by 7 News, the district attorney accuses Kershaw of conspiring with employees from Arthur Matte LLC, a CPA firm based out of Jennings that was hired by the District.

The documents claim Kershaw and Matte's employees, April Ebarb, Betty Bealer and Brittany Durio, together embezzled nearly $400,000.

Kershaw's share of this, according to Sanner, is around $246,000.

Sanner said Kershaw increased his own payroll over a five-year period, without permission from the board.

Neither Kershaw nor his attorney, Russell Tritico, agreed to comment, but in court documents, Tritico said his client was the victim of coercion on the part of the employees of Arthur Matte, LLC.

Tritico also said in the court documents filed on behalf of his client that Kershaw to come forward but feared losing his job after one of Matte's accountants, April Ebarb, threatened to tell the board that she had been manipulating Kershaw's paychecks if he didn't go along with their scheme.

Arthur Matte LLC did not want to comment on the investigation, but did call Kershaw's response to the civil suit "ludicrous."

The FBI's investigation is ongoing. No word on when their investigation will be complete.

As for the civil suit, no trial date has been announced.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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