Jeremy Laster,

a structural engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans District, was named a Most Promising Engineer by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards. The honor recognizes Laster's work helping the district reach its goal of 100-year-level storm protection for the New Orleans area by 2011. Laster, a native of Bay Springs, Miss., graduated from Mississippi's

Walmart Foundation,

the charitable arm of the retail store giant, awarded $15,000 to the New Orleans Council on Aging through a grant to the Meals On Wheels (MOW) Association of America, which provides home-delivered meals to people in need. The council will use the money to purchase a new delivery van for the Orleans Parish MOW program that serves many local senior citizens. This year the Walmart Foundation is donating more than $2 million nationwide for MOW organizations.

Betty Jefferson,

New Orleans' 4th District assessor, and her daughter Angela Coleman have admitted skimming thousands of dollars from several charitable agencies they helped control. The two pleaded guilty to four federal felonies and signed a 27-page statement summarizing the case against them. The statement also implicated Jefferson's brother, political operative Mose Jefferson, and former New Orleans City Council member Renee Gill Pratt. Mose Jefferson and Gill Pratt are scheduled to stand trial later this month for their roles in the alleged scheme.

Kelly Thompson,

former business manager for Langston Hughes Academy, pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing $600,000 from the New Orleans charter school. Thompson worked 16 months for the academy and made more than 150 withdrawals from the school's bank account in order to support her gambling habit. Thompson tried to conceal the thefts, but they were discovered during a forensic audit last November. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.