An internal audit by the Louisiana correctional department concludes that two high-ranking officials at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola diverted at least $160,000 from a fund meant to provide recreation for the prison’s employees, reports The Advocate. The audit says one of the officials used the Angola Employee Recreation Committee’s money for nearly $70,000 in personal purchases over nine years, including more than $27,000 in items from Amazon and Paypal. The same official, former Col. Shirley Whittington, also routinely withdrew hundreds of dollars in cash using an ATM card billed to the committee, taking out more than $17,000 over the past four years.
Auditors said that Whittington and alleged co-conspirator Lt. Col. Deborah Leonard routinely shorted the deposits of cash raised from sales of concession items at the prison’s annual rodeo, to the tune of $73,307. Whittington also signed off on the use of approximately $5,000 in cash to buy a Kawasaki four-wheeler from Leonard’s husband. Whittington and Leonard resigned last month. The committee’s problems have also attracted the attention of the FBI, which has begun investigating the matter. The money missing from the recreational fund is the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations at the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, most of them involving alleged self-dealing by high-ranking officials. The bad news began a year ago, when longtime Angola warden Burl Cain was forced to resign after The Advocate reported he had done business with a relative and an associate of two Angola inmates who were seeking special treatment.