The disgraced former head of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation made his first federal court appearance Wednesday since being charged by federal prosecutors and told a U.S. magistrate he understood that he is facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
John Paul Funes is expected to plead guilty next week when he appears before U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, Funes' attorney has said. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday did not ask that Funes be detained ahead of next week's hearing; he was freed under supervised release without having to post a bond.
Funes, 49, is accused of taking more than $550,000 from the nonprofit fundraising arm for his personal use. He appeared Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes and was accompanied by former U.S. Attorney Walt Green, who represents him.
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.