A Louisiana accountant has been charged with stealing more than $2 million from the struggling New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF), which he allegedly used to gamble, finance home improvements, and pay off debts, according to the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Louisiana.
Wayne Triche of Baton Rouge was charged with wire fraud and tax fraud in a 38-count indictment, said US Attorney Peter Trasser.
The indictment alleges that Triche, a certified public accountant who was responsible for investing a portion of the fund’s investments, embezzled the funds for his own personal use. The tax fraud charges stem from Triche’s failure to claim the embezzled funds on his personal income tax returns, resulting in a significant loss to the Internal Revenue Service.
If convicted of the violations, the 75-year-old Triche faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000, a period of up to three years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $3,800.
“Wayne Triche devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF), and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises,” according to the grand jury charges.
The indictment cited 34 unauthorized transactions totaling more than $1.8 million between 2013 and 2016.
NOFPRF provided $5 million to American Pension Consultants (APC), a company Triche co-founded in 2002, so that the firm could purchase life insurance policies on the fund’s behalf. A promissory note restricted the use of funds from NOFPRF to the purchase of life insurance settlements and administrative expenses up to $119,000, and a payment to APC of $250,000. No other compensation to Triche was allowed per the promissory note.
The charges allege that Triche siphoned funds belonging to the NOFPRF by transferring money held in bank accounts belonging to APC to accounts he personally controlled. It claimed the money was used for “payment of a civil judgment, gambling, home improvements, credit card payments, and living expenses.”
The indictment said APC received more than $6 million in benefits from life insurance policies purchased as investments on behalf of the pension fund, but paid the fund less than half that amount.