Feds charge former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office colonel in off-duty detail conspiracy _lowres

Photo provided by WWL-TV -- Roy Austin

Roy Austin, the former Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office colonel charged last month in an FBI inquiry into fraudulent off-duty deputy details, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud.

Austin made his first court appearance before a federal magistrate. He listened as a prosecutor explained the charge, which carries up to five years in prison.

An investigation by the FBI and state Legislative Auditor's Office found that Austin had been billing local businesses for details that deputies actually never worked. The fraudulent billings, collected by Austin's private company, Austin Sales and Service, allegedly exceeded $80,000 over a period of several years.

Federal prosecutors are expected to charge Sheriff Marlin Gusman's former chief deputy, Gerald "Jerry" Ursin, in the coming days. Ursin resigned Monday following the release of an investigative report outlining the off-duty detail overbillings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael North ordered Austin released on an unsecured $50,000 bond.

Austin and his attorney declined to comment leaving the courtroom.