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Ex-parish commissioner sentenced to nearly four years

March 17, 2022 GMT

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A former government official in a north Louisiana parish was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Tuesday for defrauding a federal summer feeding program for children.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport said former Caddo Parish Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne, 55, was sentenced to 46 months. His sister and co-defendant, Belena C. Turner, 50, also was sentenced to 46 months.

Both pleaded guilty to wire fraud in November. Prosecutors said they made claims and received more than $1 million for the Summer Feeding Service Program. But an investigation showed they actually spent much less on food. They were ordered to jointly pay $837,690 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cawthorne also pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and assisting in making a false tax return in connection with a separate indictment. He drew a three-year sentence on that charge, to be served at the same time as the longer fraud sentence, according to the news release from U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown.