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Former non-profit fundraiser pleads guilty to stealing from cancer patients

Posted at 11:22 AM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 12:22:59-04

The former chief fundraiser for Our Lady of the Lake hospitals in Baton Rouge has admitted in federal court that he embezzled more than $550,000 over a seven-year period, our media partners at the Advocate report.

John Paul Funes, 49, pleaded guilty as charged to wire fraud and money laundering during a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, the newspaper reports.

Funes served as president and chief executive officer of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and its affiliated hospitals, until he was fired in November. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count and up to $750,000 in fines, on top of any restitution that deGravelles may order, the Advocate reports.

Federal prosecutors in Baton Rouge accused Funes this month of taking more than a half-million dollars from the foundation for his personal use. Among the accusations are that he used money marked for transports of sick children for the travel of his friends and family to football games, and stole gift cards meant for cancer patients.

In December 2017, for instance, prosecutors allege that Funes chartered a flight to take his family and friends to Tampa, Florida, to attend a New Orleans Saints game, and then from Tampa to Orlando to attend the Citrus Bowl, then back to Baton Rouge. It cost the Foundation more than $14,000 that was meant to transport patients of the OLOL Children’s Hospital.

In another case, he sent more than $100,000 to a family in Florida who did not have a patient at the hospital but did know Funes, prosecutors allege. That family kicked back about $60,000 to Funes, prosecutors allege.

You can read the accusations against him yourself below: