SHREVEPORT, La. – Shreveport City Councilman John Nickelson has asked the state auditor to conduct an investigative audit of the city’s Finance Department.
Nickelson, chairman of the City Council’s Audit and Finance Committee, made the request by letter Thursday to Legislative Auditor Michael J. Waguespack.
The request comes three days after the city’s former controller alleged possible illegalities in the city’s finances and accounting. Ben Hebert, 85, said he was fired in December after he brought those issues to the attention of his supervisors, including Kasey Brown, who is the interim chief financial officer.
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Hebert alleges age and racial discrimination in his dismissal and said he plans to file suit by week’s end.
In his letter, Nickelson cited Hebert’s termination.
“Last month, the city’s interim chief financial officer unceremoniously fired the city’s controller, Ben Hebert, without notice to all council members. Mr. Hebert, a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner, has made a wide range of allegations concerning incompetence and malfeasance in the Finance Department. These allegations from a former member of the city’s management team are serious and call into question the department’s capacity to administer public funds. They require a full, fair and transparent investigation that only your office can provide.”
Nickelson included with his letter the statement Hebert made Monday during a news conference.
Some of the allegations from Hebert and his attorney, Allison Jones, include:
- The city fails to follow established accounting practices.
- The city failed to meet IRS and state revenue time constraints.
- The city often didn’t pay its credit cards on time.
He also raised questions about Mayor Adrian Perkins’ travels. Hebert said some of the expense reports do not include itemized receipts for expenditures, little or no description of the purpose or benefits derived for the city from the trip and other irregularities.
Hebert says he refused to participate in what he felt were violations of state law. He believes he was also passed over for a promotion because of his age and his race.
Jones says she will be filing complaints with the EEOC and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.
The city said because of pending litigation it could not comment on Hebert’s allegations.