Former City of Central employee facing forgery charges

Actual signature of Mayor Jr. Shelton
Actual signature of Mayor Jr. Shelton
Forged signature of Mayor Jr. Shelton
Forged signature of Mayor Jr. Shelton

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - City of Central Mayor Jr. Shelton says several months ago, an article in a local newspaper critiquing a flood debris contract, or lack thereof, prompted him to start asking questions.

"I thought it was odd that it had been signed one week before I came into office, so I contacted the prior mayor. He came by and looked at it and said he did not sign that contract, nor did he know anything about the contract," said Shelton.

That response from the former mayor came as a shock. Shelton then looked deeper into contracts leaving City Hall. "That told me that we had a problem, obviously of forgery taking place," he said.

Inside the former chief administrator, David Barrow's office, Shelton says he found another forged document that led to an investigation by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

According to an arrest warrant, Barrow is now facing forgery charges. The contract at the heart of the investigation is a maintenance agreement between the city and a subdivision. However, the mayor's signature on the bottom of the contract doesn't match his actual signature.

"It's signed by the developer and the city. This one reportedly had my signature on it, but it was nowhere close to my signature," said Shelton.

Shelton says although he's not involved with the everyday development, he expects city employees to provide detailed information surrounding city business. "He coulda' been very valuable information used for the city and helped. When you keep yourself in your own four walls of your office, things like this happen."

The mayor says he would never have expected this to happen on his watch, but he's taking steps to prevent it from happening in the future. "It goes through two or three hands so that it is done properly, in addition to that, when we have a contract to come up such as this, I know about it before hand. I'm looking for it and I know whether I assigned it or not," said Shelton.

An arrest warrant was issued for Barrow Tuesday, April 18. He turned himself into EBRSO officials on Wednesday. His bond is set at $5,000.

On Thursday, April 20, Barrow's attorney, Lauren Ventrella, released a statement on Barrow's behalf. The statement reads:

Mr. Barrow was shocked to learn of the allegations made against him. He conscientiously served the people of Central with honor during his entire tenure as Chief Administrative Officer. Although he did not have the opportunity to speak with investigators prior to being arrested, we are confident his innocence will be thoroughly demonstrated throughout this process.

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