BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The former head of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation pleaded guilty Thursday, June 20 to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
There will be a pre-sentencing investigation to determine penalties for John Paul Funes, who is charged with taking more than $550,000 from a non-profit charity for personal use. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says Funes is facing a significant term of imprisonment, a fine, and a supervised release.
- Click HERE to read the terms of the plea released in a press release from the DOJ.
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles will decide whether to accept or reject Funes’ guilty plea during the pre-sentencing investigation. If he rejects the plea, Funes can withdraw it.
Funes’ attorney, Walt Green, released a statement following his plea:
Prosecutors say Funes, 49, flew family and friends to LSU and New Orleans Saints football games under the guise of “outbound patient transports,” and stole gift cards intended for cancer patients.
Two former LSU football players, Vadal Alexander and Rohan Davey, have found themselves indirectly tied up in the Funes saga.
Funes hired Alexander’s father to do chores, including cutting grass and cleaning up after events, two sources familiar with the case told WAFB. But the father soon grew tired of the job and quit, the sources say. The payments, which totaled nearly $180,000, continued even after he quit, the sources claim.
The money received by James Alexander from Funes was transferred while his son was still on the LSU football team, the sources say.
Funes also sent checks to two relatives of former LSU football player, Rohan Davey, totaling about $107,000, the sources claim. The Baton Rouge Business Report quoted sources as saying the two Davey relatives include his mother and a sister. The pair ultimately funneled back about $63,000 of the money to Funes, the report states.
Davey, reached via text message by WAFB Thursday, says he’s meeting with his attorneys on the matter. He did not offer any further comment. He was not an LSU player when the payments were received by his relatives.
LSU Senior Associate Athletics Director Robert Munson would not comment about the two players.
“LSU was made aware of specific allegations by Our Lady of the Lake officials in late 2018 and made that information immediately available to the NCAA," Munson said. "As this is an ongoing inquiry, LSU will have no further comment at this time.”
Funes made his first court appearance Wednesday, June 12 where he waived his right to a grand jury indictment and a preliminary hearing.
Funes was fired in November of 2018 after he was accused of falsifying records dating back to 2012 to cover up the thefts. Courts documents state Funes allegedly wrote fraudulent checks “on dozens of occasions” made out to himself and to those close to him. Funes admitted to even using fake patient names on bogus invoices.
OLOL launched their internal investigation into the matter in 2018.
The foundation raises money for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and its affiliated hospitals.
Follow Matt Houston on Twitter @MattCHouston for updates.