SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Former Caddo Parish Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne and his sister, Belena Turner, pled guilty to wire fraud in connection with their involvement in a scheme to defraud the Food and Nutrition Service that administers the summer Child Nutrition Programs Friday night. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, after several delays.
Cawthorne and Turner each face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 for wire fraud. Cawthorne also faces up to 3 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or possibly both for tax fraud.
Beginning sometime in early 2011 and continuing until sometime in December 2015, the defendants fraudulently obtained more than $536,000 from the Summer Feeding Service Program (SFSP) by engaging in numerous activities to defraud, included filing claims for reimbursement that greatly inflated the number of eligible meals provided, thus claiming more children were fed at UCAN sites than were actually fed.
Cawthorne and Turner first appeared in court on May 2, 2018, but did not enter a plea at that time, as they were still trying to figure out who would represent them in court. Their first trial date, Jan. 14, 2019, was reset for August 5, 2019, after government prosecutors said they needed several more months to roll out all the evidence and defense attorneys said they needed more time to read it. The trial was delayed several times.