Clinton, LA women charged with 196 counts of money laundering

Alice Kent (Source: Clinton Police Department)
Alice Kent (Source: Clinton Police Department)
Carol Shirley (Source: Clinton Police Department)
Carol Shirley (Source: Clinton Police Department)

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - An East Feliciana Parish town is in turmoil after two women are arrested and charged with racketeering. It involves non-profit "Friends of Clinton Main Street" organization.

With a population of less than 1,700, Clinton, LA is the type of town where people know what is going on with their neighbors; so when 66-year-old Carol Shirley and 62-year-old Alice Kent were arrested, most people were shocked. Alice Kent is an officer at Landmark Bank and the treasurer of Friends of Main Street program. Carol Shirley is the Executive Director of the Friends of Main Street program.

The Clinton Main Street project is a non-profit organization designed to enhance the town. Now it is the focus of a Federal and State probe.

Legislative auditors say that $65,000 didn't go to promote the culture, recreation and tourism in Clinton, instead it went to pay for personal things for the two women.

"The money would come into the town. Once the town got the money, the town would cut the check to what it thought was Clinton Main Street program. There was an account in that name in Landmark Bank, which is next door. Our investigation showed over the course of the five year period that was looked at, that for that entire period of time, the accounts only carried a balance of $3.57," said Staff Sgt. James Cook with the Clinton Police Department.

Staff Sergeant Cook says Kent and Shirley used the money for personal things like rent, utilities and travel.

The yearlong investigation into the missing money lead to the arrest on Friday. The town's mayor says he is saddened by the news and that both women are personal friends of him and his wife.

"We had to do something even though they're friends of ours. They've been friends for a long, long time. It's very hard to do," said Clinton Mayor Don Reason.

Shirley and Kent are charged with one count each of racketeering, malfeasance and theft, six counts each of Public Contract Fraud, 15 counts each of Filing or Maintaining False Public Records, and 196 counts each of money laundering.

A number of local businesses had donated money to the Clinton Main Street program, including the Exxon Retiree Program, Landmark Bank, and Feliciana Bank.

 Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.