BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome's office says all BRAVE contracts have been cancelled and all leftover money must be returned to the federal government after a 9News Investigation was launched into questionable spending involving a number of those contracts.
Anyone who had a contract will be paid for work already performed, but any future work will be discontinued, according to Interim City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dr. James Llorens.
"It's terrible. You look and you turn on the news and a murder every other day in Baton Rouge at the moment and you think a million dollars? I mean, that could have a big impact, especially in a program like BRAVE that's had such a good track record in the past, so it's very unfortunate that we would leave those dollars on the table," said EBR Councilman Dwight Hudson.
Dr. Llorens says all remaining BRAVE federal money, believed to be around $1.4 million, will be returned to the federal government at the end of September.
September 30 was the deadline to spend the remaining money.
The city's former Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Dr. James Gilmore tried to use the money, but the contracts he drew up were questionable, including things like teaching children poetry and holding sporting events. The question was whether the BRAVE funding could be used for those types of events.
After a series of 9News investigations into the BRAVE contracts, Dr. Gilmore resigned and Mayor Broome put all those contracts on hold until they could be reviewed.
At the same time, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office launched an investigative audit into the BRAVE contracts and the process used to approve them. The mayor's office is still waiting on the results of that audit, but with the grant extension coming to an end in about three weeks and auditors still reviewing contracts, Dr. Llorens now says no more work is being done under BRAVE Instead, he says the city will pay for any work that's already been done, but none of the suspended contracts will be reinstated.
BRAVE is a federally funded program aimed at reducing crime and violence in high-crime areas.
The 9News Investigators first reported in July some of that funding was being provided to programs that might not meet federal approval for BRAVE funding.
Among them was a $9,800 contract with Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed for him to teach youth how to respect police. He's the same person who recently said he believes the man who shot six law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge last year had delivered "justice."
After WAFB filed a public records request seeking more information on the Reed contract, the mayor's office abruptly cancelled the contract and said no money had been paid to Reed.