LAFAYETTE, La. — The founder of one of the numerous versions of the "Cajun Navy" has been arrested for theft.
John Billiot Jr. was booked Tuesday on an active warrant accusing him of felony theft, records show. He was released after posting a $7,500 bond.
According to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, the investigation began in September.
The victim advised that John Billiot, Jr., started a GoFundMe account to aid in the care of specific foster children and their foster parents. The GoFundMe account was set up to generate money to assist the children and the foster parents with their care as well as for Christmas Presents for the children.
Only a portion of the funds derived from this GoFundMe account were used for the benefit of the foster children as intended. The majority of the funds allegedly were retained by Billiot.
Billiot is accused of felony theft by fraud and misappropriation of funds.
The family who pressed the charges are now sharing their story. They want to remain anonymous. However, they want their story heard, so this doesn't happen to anyone else.
"He's definitely taken advantage of a lot of people because a lot of people donated to this GoFundMe with the intentions of all this money going to these kids and it didn't," the mother of the family told KATC. "I just want to make sure no one else gets scammed by him."
In December of 2018, John Billiot told KATC in an interview on the fund-raising efforts, "I decided that I'm going to go the extra mile and get gifts."
Billiot is accused of using the "Cajun Navy" name to collect gifts for a foster family. He also set up an account for them. Now, deputies say he took GoFundMe, literally.
"I just want to make sure no one else gets scammed by him," the mother of the family said. According to the Sheriff's Office, Billiot kept a majority of the money raised through the account.
The family connected with a group called Cajun Navy WikiLeaks, whose goal is to expose fraud in some storm rescue groups. "The most important thing of the story is victims need to come forward," creator of the page Tom Bever said. "Once these victims come forward these charges are going to stack. "
Now the family and others worry they aren't alone. "We were disappointed because we thought we had found a friend in John," the mother of the family said.
"The kids looked up to him. He brought some joy into their lives and then to find out that he was actually using their situation to his benefit is really disappointing."
KATC reached out to Billiot, but haven't heard back.
Billiot has presented himself as the founder of the group calling itself America's Cajun Navy. He also is a former member of the SMILE board of directors. To read some of our stories involving him, click here and here.