Clerk of Court charged after failing to submit audits DeFrancesch is working to correct situation, Legislative Auditor’s Office says

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

LAPLACE ­— On May 25, District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut filed a bill of information charging St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court Eliana DeFrancesch with six counts of malfeasance in office for failing to submit years of lawfully required financial audits.

Three of the counts allege that DeFrancesch failed to file audits for 2019, 2020 and 2021, while the other three counts of malfeasance in office cite that she denied the Louisiana Legislative Auditor access to records.

DeFrancesch has served as the St. John Parish Clerk of Court since 2000 and was most recently re-elected in 2019.

According to a spokesperson for the Legislative Auditor’s Office, DeFrancesch has expressed that she wants to correct the situation and is currently working with Luther Speight & Company CPAs, a New Orleans based professional accounting firm qualified to do governmental audits.

DeFrancesch was not available for comment as of press time.

According to the Legislative Auditor’s website, the most recent audit of the St. John Parish Clerk of Court’s Office was issued in October 2020 for the time period of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

The 2017 and 2018 audits, signed by Carr, Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, stated there was insufficient evidence about the office’s finances to provide a basis for an audit opinion.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office looked into the St. John Clerk of Court’s non-compliance after a representative from an outside firm expressed that he was unable to obtain any documents from the office.

Audits for 2019 through 2021 have yet to be turned in, and the 2022 audit deadline of June 30, 2022 is quickly approaching.

“On May 11, we sent DeFrancesch a letter saying how serious that was and pointing out which laws were violated,” a spokesperson from the Legislative Auditor’s Office said.

Public agencies are required to complete audits to ensure public monies are collected and dispersed properly. By examining books and records, CPAs check that all funds are accounted for and that financial statements accurately depict the transactions that occurred.

In the event of non-compliance, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office has an obligation to refer cases to the Attorney General, the District Attorney or even the United States Attorney. The Legislative Auditor’s Office is merely a fact finder and does not have any prosecutorial discretion.

St. John District Attorney Dinvaut was unable to comment on the charges filed against DeFrancesch.