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UPDATE: Internal review finds problems with Bruno loan

Posted at 11:11 AM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 13:36:51-04

We’ve now obtained a copy of the internal review of a mayoral aide’s loan that The Current reported about yesterday.

An internal review of the Lafayette Neighborhoods’ Economic Development Corporation was produced last month, following a visit to the agency on March 11. Chief Communications Officer Cydra Wingerter said she just received the report yesterday. The cover letter states that the report was issued on April 17.

The review was conducted to ensure the agency is complying with all federal rules and regulations, as well as grant agreements with city-parish government, when it gave a federal small business loan to the business of a mayoral aide, Marcus Bruno.

You can read the report for yourself by scrolling down.

The report lists several findings:

  1. The loan did not comply with the federal objective of retaining two employees who were in danger of being laid off without the loan, because the company only ever had one employee – Bruno’s wife.
  2. The loan file did not contain any documentation that proved that the company was going to lose any employees, and there was no documentation at all to prove the current employee’s income eligibility
  3. The loan file did not include any documentation that proved how the loan funds were disbursed.

To correct these problems, the report recommends:

LA Consultants should provide proof, “if it exists,” that it added people to its payroll. If they have not, then the board has to modify the loan, call the loan or pursue legal action – which could include seizure and sale of the collateral provided by LA Consultants for the loan.

The board also should investigate the loan process and find out why the proper procedures weren’t followed in granting the loan to Bruno’s company, the review states.

“The Board must take measures to ensure that these processes are followed,” the review states.

And, the board must ask LA Consultants for documentation, i.e. receipts and invoices, of how the grant money was spent.

The Current’s story also reports that none of the agencies listed on Bruno’s company’s website as “partners” are actually doing business with the company. The magazine reports that officials with the Lafayette Parish School System, South Louisiana Community College and SWLA Center for Health Services all deny doing business with the company, and all say they’ve asked that their logos be removed from the website.

As we’ve reported, questions surround the loan that Bruno and his wife obtained from an LCG agency. The issue story came to light via a story by our media partners at The Advocate; you can read that original story here.

Mayor-President Joel Robideaux initially said that Bruno had done nothing wrong. Then he released a report, which he had requested from the attorneys who handle much of his city business, which he says found that Bruno didn’t violate any laws or policies when he obtained the small business loan. That was despite the fact that council members called for an outside, unbiased investigation last week.

The Current also posted a story about Robideaux’s purchase of a home belonging to Bruno’s wife. You can read about that here.

Most recently, Robideaux said he had asked HUD and the state ethics board to review the case. You can read our stories about this situation here.

Here’s the actual report, with the cover letter which includes the date of the report: