Audit finds former Angola warden used public money and prison workers on his personal homes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Angola's former warden may have violated state law by using prison resources and public funds on his personal homes, according to a new audit.

Released by the legislative auditor, the report comes more than a year after Burl Cain ended his decades-long tenure at the prison. Three state investigations, including one by the inspector general, found no evidence of illegal activity by Cain. This audit differs from that pattern.

"It's abusive. It's because I can, I use the money in that way," said Daryl Purpera, Louisiana's legislative auditor.

The auditor's report shows the former warden had prison employees work on his personal home in East Baton Rouge Parish. Some employees did not take leave to do the work, meaning they may have been working on the state's dime.

"There's potential for payroll fraud there," Purpera said.

Cain also reportedly used $28,000 in public money to purchase appliances and furnishings for his home on the Angola grounds. That includes two 70-inch TVs, costing more than $2,000 each. He also bought a 46.6 cubic foot refrigerator.

"I can tell you, I don't have one of those at home, and I bet you don't either, but that's a $2,600 refrigerator," Purpera said.

The audit identifies 188 instances where members of Cain's family reportedly stayed overnight in state-owned houses on the Angola grounds. The report further says that they ate 235 meals. Together, that amounts to more than $17,000 in questionable spending, according to the auditor's office.

"As a public official even, we take these jobs with the knowledge that we should not misappropriate the funds for our personal use," Purpera said.

The report also raised questions about money generated by the Angola Prison Rodeo. Between 2014 and 2015, the rodeo brought in more than $6 million intended for prison operations, mainly spending on inmates. However, that money never went into the state coffers as it was supposed to, meaning there was no legislative oversight of the funds.

"It's always supposed to be accounted for and transparent, and when you put it in a side account, that removes a lot of transparency," Purpera said.

The head of the Department of Public Safety and Correction declined a request for an on-camera interview. They said they could not talk until the investigations into the department had wrapped up. In a letter included in the report, Secretary James LeBlanc said they are looking into the problems highlighted by the audit and are working to correct them.

Purpera said they have passed their report onto the District Attorney. Cain's lawyer responded to the report, arguing that the findings and legal conclusions are "in error."

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