Accountant imprisoned 3.5 years for taking $1 million from New Orleans firefighters fund
Wayne Triche embezzled money from the pension fund to cover his gambling, home improvement and living expenses
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
NEW ORLEANS — A Baton Rouge accountant who looted the New Orleans firefighters pension fund to cover his gambling, home improvement and living expenses was sentenced Tuesday to 41 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Duane Evans' office said.
Wayne Triche, 72, pleaded guilty in March to charges of wire fraud and tax fraud. U.S. District Judge Greg Guidry sentenced Triche to 41 months in prison. He must also pay $937,659 in restitution to the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF) and $329,895 to the Internal Revenue Service as part of the sentence.
From 2009 to 2017, Triche embezzled approximately $937,659 from the fund, which is separate from the city and the fire department and is intended to administer survivor, disability and retirement benefits to participating firefighters. Triche also lied about his income, failing to claim the embezzled funds on his taxes from 2013 to 2016, which is how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS nabbed him in a joint investigation.
In 2003, NOFPRF gave Triche and his business partner, George Russell, at American Pension Consultants, $5 million to invest in life insurance policies. Russell died in 2007. Triche pocketed nearly $1 million of the profits, according to court documents, funneling the money to bank accounts he controlled 34 times between 2013 and 2016.
"Mr. Wayne Triche perpetuated an elaborate scheme driven by his insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on the NOFPRF and its members," said James E. Dorsey, a special agent for the IRS, in a news release.
Triche's fraudulent scheme represents the latest development in a series of financial missteps to plague the NOFPRF. Recent risky investment deals include luxury golf course and a Cayman Islands hedge fund, which went bankrupt. As of March, the fund remained in the red and had yet to uphold promises to the city drafted in a 2015 legal settlement.
Neither Triche nor attorney Louis Robein, who represents New Orleans firefighters, returned requests for comments.
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