A St. James Parish (La.) former transit mechanic is accused of purchasing $11,000 in automobile and boat parts using parish funds that did not fit parish-owned vehicles, a Louisiana investigative audit found. This happened between March 2016 and February 2019.

Parish Transit provides weekday public transportation services and transportation and meal delivery services through its elderly program. Former transit mechanic Klay Becnel and a mechanic’s helper maintained all the vehicles.

In February, Parish officials investigated parts procurement and found that nearly $2,200 in parts were purchased in the prior year that were unrelated to the transit fleet. Becnel was terminated and agreed to pay the parish back from his last paycheck.

The state audit looked at a three-year time frame, finding more than $11,000 in purchased parts that did not match transit vehicles. Becnel said that when he was terminated, he reviewed the parts that the parish had identified and agreed he used the parts for personal use. When auditors confronted him with the new findings, he said he was not the only person who could order parts and that he was trying to move on after his firing.

Because these are transit parts, parish officials are determining whether he submitted expenses to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), which oversees federal transit grants. Any misspent funds billed to the DOTD must be repaid.

Auditors recommended that parish officials consult legal counsel to determine appropriate action and to develop and implement policies to ensure parts are purchased and used appropriately.

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