by: Ian Auzenne
The former director of the Lafayette Housing Authority and Opelousas Housing Authority is facing a possible 30 years in jail after pleading guilty this morning to federal bribery and wire fraud charges.
Walter Guillory will be sentenced on June 11 at 1 p.m. in the Lafayette federal courthouse.
Guillory, who donned a blue blazer, dark khakis, white shirt, and blue-and-green speckled tie, attended the proceedings with his lawyer, Frank Dawkins.
Dawkins told Judge Elizabeth Foote that Guillory solicited donations from vendors and contractors for a baseball team he sponsored. These sponsorships, according to Dawkins, became a yearly mandatory payment for contractors.
Dawkins also stated that Guillory deposited approximately half of the nearly $100,000 raised from these donations into his personal account.
Federal prosecutors said because most of the donations were made in cash, an exact amount for the donations could be figured.
“I want to make it clear that Mr. Guillory did not steal or embezzle from the Lafayette Housing Authority,” Dawkins said after the hearing. “He never strong-armed any contractors. The donations were implied from the contractors’ standpoint.
“This case was more about the improper solicitation of donations while he was the head of the Lafayette Housing Authority.”
Guillory admitted to Foote that he signed bids that violated federal law. However, he told Judge Foote that a coconspirator, Garnette Thomas, told him that those projects were emergencies. Guillory added that his signature was forged on some of the documents.
Guillory also said in court that he attempted to correct the bid process after discovering the errors and problems.
Thomas pleaded guilty in connection with this case last September.
Although he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines, Guillory most likely will receive a lighter sentence thanks to a plea deal he made with federal prosecutors. The agreement calls for the government to advocate for a lighter sentence for Guillory in exchange for his cooperation with investigators.
Guillory will remain free on his own recognizance until his sentencing date.