Report reveals several possible state violations in Town of Pearl River
PEARL RIVER, La. — After pouring through the town’s finances and operations, following months of Eyewitness reports on the dealings in the Town of Pearl River, the Louisiana Legislative auditor is revealing several possible state violations by city leaders.
The 130-page report details personal use of town-purchased equipment by Mayor James Lavigne and Police Chief Benny Raynor, including a boat we found parked at the mayor’s house on a previous story.
Personal purchases were also found by the mayor and Town Clerk Diane Bennett, in an admitted effort to avoid paying sales taxes, which were paid back. There’s also questionable extra payroll checks to the clerk.
The report questions almost $30,000 in Christmas bonuses masked as clothing allowances on the budget. And the mayor’s personal use of the town vehicle, which was the subject of an Eyewitness News report, was allegedly not reported to the IRS. Auditors say the vehicle purchase also violated bid laws.
Reaction to the report from some aldermen is not so much in surprise of the findings, but of the extent of them.