The former head of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation made his first federal court appearance Wednesday since being charged last week by federal prosecutors and said he understood that he's facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
John Paul Funes, who did not enter a plea of any kind, is expected to plead guilty next week when he appears before U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, Funes' attorney has said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Stevens did not ask Wednesday that Funes be detained ahead of his scheduled June 20 arraignment, so U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes granted him supervised release without ordering him to post a bond.
Funes, 49, is accused of taking more than $550,000 from the nonprofit fundraising arm for his personal use. He made no statements as he walked into and out of the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge with his attorney, former U.S. Attorney Walt Green.
Funes chatted with Green at the defense table and smiled at times before Wilder-Doomes entered the courtroom. She advised Funes of his rights and read the bill of information that federal prosecutors filed against him last week. Funes and Green followed along with their own copy of the document.
Funes, who previously waived his right to be charged by a grand jury, also indicated Wednesday that he was waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Federal prosecutors have alleged Funes flew family and friends to LSU and New Orleans Saints football games under the guise of patient transports and stole gift cards intended for cancer victims.
Funes, who was fired in November as the OLOL Foundation's president and chief executive officer, is accused of falsifying vouchers since 2012 and creating fake records to cover up roughly $550,000 in thefts.
The Foundation raises money for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and its affiliated hospitals.
Some of the funds Funes is accused of stealing were allegedly used improperly to pay the parent of an LSU athlete. Funes reportedly gave Foundation money to the parent, ostensibly as wages for a job, according to two sources familiar with the probe who asked not to be identified because both said they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Funes was paid more than $350,000 in 2017, including $42,000-plus in incentives and other benefits.