Covering Louisiana

Mar 5, 2014 5:46 AM by AP

Arraignment set for BESE member Walter Lee

MANSFIELD, La. (AP) - A former DeSoto Parish school superintendent is set to appear in state district court Wednesday for arraignment on four felony charges.

Walter C. Lee, 79, of Shreveport, is accused of two counts of felony theft and one count each of public contract fraud and malfeasance in office. He's a current member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Times reports the charges stem from allegations outlined in an investigative audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office. Lee is accused of double-billing expenses to the school district at to BESE. He's also accused of personally benefiting from the return of a leased vehicle and intentionally performing his duties as a superintendent in an unlawful manner.

The Times also investigated Lee's spending and financial decision-making over the last three years of his contracted employment with the DeSoto Parish School Board.

He retired Nov. 2, 2012, from the school system but continues to serve on BESE. A felony conviction would require his resignation from BESE.

Lee surrendered to the DeSoto Parish sheriff's office within hours of his indictment in January. He's been free on a $50,000 cash bond.

District Attorney Richard Johnson said he's had not had any contact with Lee's attorney, Taylor Townsend, since Lee's arrest.

Johnson anticipates Lee will plead not guilty to the charges, which is the typical scenario for a first court appearance.

Lee's case will be assigned to District Judge Charles B. Adams' division since District Judge Robert Burgess has recused himself from the proceedings, citing his involvement with the school district through his oversight of juvenile matters.

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