Hingle, the sheriff of Plaquemines Parish since 1992, entered into a contract with Benetech, LLC in 2007 to provide services related to recovery from previous and future natural disasters. On two separate occasions in March and April 2008, Hingle approved invoices and issued Benetech checks for work purportedly performed under the contract.
Within weeks of those payments, Benetech’s owner, W. Aaron Bennett, gave Hingle $20,000 in two equal cash installments which were intended to influence him in connection with the contract. Bennett was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery as a result of his cash payments to Hingle.
The Bill of Information also claimed that Hingle used over $100,000 in reelection campaign funds for personal matters. His campaign finance report for 2008, filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics – an agency that receives federal funds – falsely indicated the money was used for campaign-related expenditures when it was really used for personal expenses.
“We place greater trust in our law enforcement officials, trust that they will maintain and display ethical and lawful conduct. No one is above the law. Conduct as detailed in the Bill of Information reduces the opportunity for fair business and severely reduces the public’s trust in our elected officials,” said David Welker, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office.
Hingle pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy on November 30, 2011. Bennett has also pleaded guilty, and both are scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2012. See: United States v. Hingle, U.S.D.C. (E.D. La.), Case No. 2:11-cr-00252-SSV-ALC.
Additional sources: U.S. Attorney’s Office press releases, www.nola.com
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Related legal case
United States v. Hingle
|Cite||U.S.D.C. (E.D. La.), Case No. 2:11-cr-00252-SSV-ALC|