The Vandale Thomas Debacle!!
An accountant at the New Orleans Traffic Court who stole 1.3 million dollars by getting the Chief Judge among other judges to sign his obscenely padded pay slips for three years, was sentenced to three years this week in U.S. District Court. The sentencing guideline was for double that. I certainly think he should have been socked with double or triple that. He was convicted on all eleven counts of money laundering, embezzlement, and fraud in Federal Court.
No money was recovered as Thomas spent most of his ill gotten gains at the local casinos where no one batted an eye that an accountant earning well south of $100,000 was blowing double that no problem in their gambling establishment. He gambled $1.3 million of the people’s money over four years at the Belle of Baton Rouge alone! Biloxi, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Atlantic City, New Orleans were other gambling destinations.
He stole from us, the people. He used the Chief Traffic Court Judge in the scheme, and throwing mud on the Chief Judge is onerous to say the least. I’ve written many times before about illegal dealings in the New Orleans Traffic Court. All four Traffic Court judges wrote checks to Thomas, though Chief Administrative Judge Robert Jones III wrote the most. Thomas was also Jones campaign manager.
Thomas enjoyed more than one payday while he was getting paid by Traffic Court $750,000 for work during 2010. Thomas worked on a couple of contracts under accounting firm Pailet, Meunier and LeBlanc, which charged the city $243,000 for Thomas’ hours from the start of 2010 through mid 2011.
Thomas also worked for the City Council’s Utilities Regulatory Office. They billed $150 an hour for work the firm said Thomas did under a separate contract covering a variety of city accounting work. It also billed $198.75 an hour for work Thomas did under a separate contract covering more city accounting.
He couldn’t pay back a cent. So we need to be made whole via the jail term, as that’s all that’s left. He should have gotten 10 years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office urged leniency, I have no idea why.
Thomas made a very telling comment during sentencing. He apologized to his mother. He said, she spent countless hours working countless jobs to keep me from being in this position. That feeling of letting down your mom on a humongous, spiritual, life altering level must really smart. I don’t know- like most sane people, I tried not to let my parents down on any life changing levels.