Mayor's office says no BRAVE funds used in YES program, cites clerical error

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The mayor's office has dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing associated with funding for a program that helps area youth, instead blaming a clerical error for the confusion and fallout.

Media outlets including WAFB have reported that money from the federally-funded BRAVE program may have been misspent or inappropriately allocated to fund a youth program known as "YES."

Meanwhile, the mayor's office continues its own internal probe of a separate matter - whether BRAVE dollars were allocated for jobs or contracts that would not qualify under the BRAVE grant's federal regulations.

BRAVE is a program aimed at reducing crime in certain zip codes, while YES is a youth empowerment leadership program aimed at decreasing juvenile delinquency and increasing "access to opportunities for positive pro-social activities," Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's office said.

After the WAFB 9NEWS Investigative Team published city documents and spreadsheets detailing the program's list of contracts and vendors Wednesday, Broome's office responded by claiming the spreadsheets posted to the city-parish's website were partially incorrect. The spreadsheets indicated BRAVE funding was being used to pay for the YES program.

"It has been discovered that there was a clerical error in the purchasing department, and the department name on some of the BCJI/YES contracts was entered incorrectly," said Janene Tate, spokeswoman for Broome.

Earlier this week, the mayor announced she was suspending all BRAVE contracts until her office could thoroughly review them.

The 9NEWS Investigative Team first reported that BRAVE money had possibly been inappropriately used to fund multiple new contracts since the mayor took office earlier this year.

One of the contracts would have paid Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed $9,800 to teach teens to respect law enforcement.

Reed, a former gang member who is now an advocate for nonviolence, recently said he believes the man who ambushed Baton Rouge law enforcement last year had served "justice."

After WAFB requested a copy of the Reed contract, the mayor's office swiftly canceled the contract and said no money had yet been paid to Reed.

Other BRAVE contracts being reviewed include some that went to political supporters of the mayor and included tasks such as organizing sporting events for area youth.

The remaining question of some Metro Council members is whether BRAVE funding can be earmarked for some of the things the mayor's office is using it for. That is part of the current review being conducted within the mayor's office. Broome promised an update on the internal probe by next Monday.


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