NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) —
The U.S attorney’s office announced that a former St. Tammany Parish sheriff has been indicted on federal charges in connection with a bribery and kickback scheme.
Jack Strain is accused of using his authority during his time as sheriff to award a public contract worth over $1 million with the intent to steer the proceeds to himself, close friends and family members in relation to a privately operated work release program in Slidell.
The 16-count indictment was announced Thursday afternoon.
Strain is facing a separate indictment in state court stemming from sexual misconduct allegations.
Two former high-ranking St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connectionwith their involvement in the now defunct St. Tammany Workforce Solutions.
Strain was not named in the bill of information, but addressed as “then-sheriff” or “public official No. 1” because the U.S. Department of Justice does not name people who have not been charged.
According to the investigation, Keen and Hanson discussed with “then-sheriff” about becoming owners of the program that “public official No. 1” had decided to privatize.
Work release programs typically allow nonviolent inmates to work in the community as they try to rehabilitate into everyday life.
“Hanson, Keen and public official No. 1 discussed ways to allow Hanson and Keen to maintain their employment and still profit from the Slidell work release program,” the DOJ alleges.
DOJ investigators said Hanson and Keen made their adult children owners of the program and that two children were paid more than $1.1 million, later having to give back the money to Hanson and Keen.
Strain was issued a grand jury subpoena in March 2018, requesting emails, correspondence and copies of checks and notes regarding any payment to Strain.
Federal investigators alleged that Strain, who was not specifically named, received recurring payments of more than $1,000 and his son received a $4,000 payment.
Officials said another one of his relatives who worked for the Sheriff’s Office received $30,000 each year for a no-show job.
Strain had no comment about the March subpoena when he was asked for a statement.