A former state Department of Health and Hospitals project manager accused of bribery and laundering federal grant money between 2010 and 2013 was arrested Thursday.
The Attorney General’s Office launched its investigation in collaboration with the FBI in February 2013 after a complaint of public corruption was lodged against Curtis Mack, an attorney general’s report says.
Investigators first discovered that Mack, who supervised federal grants administered through DHH, solicited a kickback from the operator of an apartment complex in return for federal Olmstead grant program funds to help pay rent for the mentally ill, homeless and substance abusers, the report says. The operator cooperated in the investigation.
Detectives later learned that Mack made similar arrangements with the heads of other Baton Rouge independent living facilities, including Shonda Burns, the owner of Angel House, and Elaine Borskey, the former executive director of Christian Outreach Center, and was pocketing federal grant money between April 9, 2010, and July 8, 2013, the report says.
A witness told detectives that Mack had offered to direct public funds to assist in paying rent for people living at the witness’s apartment complex. The report says the witness had to pay Mack a portion of the federal funds disguised as payment for maintenance work at the facility. Under law enforcement surveillance, the witness made several transactions on these terms in February 2013 and March 2013 to aid detectives’ investigation.
Mack allegedly was using the kickbacks he received to fund his own business, another independent-living facility, the report says.
Mack was prohibited from receiving funds for his facility from the federal program because he was a DHH employee, the report says. He worked at DHH from February 2007 to Oct. 7, 2014, when he was dismissed, DHH spokeswoman Samantha Faulkner said.
During the investigation, detectives learned he had similar arrangements with Borskey, who ran the Christian Outreach Center in Baton Rouge. Mack cut checks for Borskey for a nonexistent residential facility through Christian Outreach Center, thus funneling the federal funds through Borskey for his personal use, the report says. Borskey told law enforcement she was allowed to keep small portions of the money for her cooperation between September 2011 and July 2013.
In addition, Burns, the Angel House owner, funneled money through that organization to Mack’s business between April 2010 and March 2012 in exchange for Mack’s agreement to provide some federal funds to her clients whether her clients needed the financial assistance or not, the report says.
Together, Burns, Borskey and Mack defrauded the Olmstead grant program and the Christian Outreach Center of $92,173, and each was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
Mack, 2842 Dalton St., was booked on one count each of public bribery, malfeasance in office, theft by fraud, money laundering and criminal conspiracy. Bail has not been set for Mack.
Borskey, of Zachary, was booked on counts of money laundering and criminal conspiracy. Burns, of Baton Rouge, was booked on counts of public bribery and criminal conspiracy.