The attorney for the Capital Area Transit System (CATS) advised the board’s president nine days ago Montrell McCaleb had likely violated state ethics codes requiring the full board to be notified, according to emails reported to The Advocate in Baton Rouge. CATS Chief Financial Officer Gary Owens notified Attorney Creighton Abadie and Marshall of the problem on May 17, but McCaleb was not reported to law enforcement until Friday. Board President Isaiah Marshall did not inform the full board and no complaints were filed by him or the CATS Chief Executive Officer until Friday, after the media reported McCaleb’s improper use of funds.
State Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera confirms his office will take the lead on the investigation into the actions of former CATS board member Montrell McCaleb, who resigned Thursday amid allegations he used agency funds to pay $1,500 worth of personal cell phone and satellite TV bills. An investigative audit team has been assigned to the case and will begin sorting through the records of payments and invoices that were submitted to the audit office by CATS staff late Thursday.
“We are not prosecutors but we do provide information to prosecutors,” says Purpera. “We will cite within our report the laws we believe have been broken.” Purpera says it will likely be three months before the audit is complete. Sources tell Daily Report the district attorney’s office will not begin investigating until after the audit report is done. CATS interim CEO Bob Mirabito said Thursday that board chairman Isaiah Marshall and board attorney Creighton Abadie were first made aware of the allegations in mid-May and instituted an internal investigation before turning over the information to authorities. It is unclear why it took so long to refer the matter. The scandal follows more than a week of controversy over the handling of a $1.5 million management contract award, which prompted some Metro Council members to call for the resignation of the entire CATS board.
Yet another case the public must reconcile as public officials fail to uphold their sworn duties. The media again prompts legal actions and responses.