An accountant from Baton Rouge, La., will spend the next three and a half years in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling just under a million dollars from the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF), which he was in charge of managing.
Wayne Triche, 72, was sentenced on July 13 to 41 months in jail for wire fraud and tax fraud. In addition, a judge ordered Triche to pay $937,658.77 restitution to the firefighters’ pension fund, $329,895 to the IRS, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.
“Today’s sentencing exemplifies the patience and long arm of the law in its pursuit of financial fraud and criminal tax violations,” James E. Dorsey, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s field office in Atlanta, said in a written statement. “Mr. Wayne Triche perpetuated an elaborate scheme driven by his insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund and its members. Be assured that IRS Criminal Investigation, together with our federal partners, will hold those who engage in similar behavior fully accountable.”
According to court documents, Triche embezzled approximately $937,659 from the fund between January 2009 and February 2017. The fund is separate from the city of New Orleans and the fire department, and is intended to administer survivor, disability, and retirement benefits to participating firefighters, NOLA.com reported. Authorities said the accountant used those stolen funds for personal expenses, such as a civil court judgment, credit card charges, and gambling.
Authorities said the tax fraud charges stem from Triche not claiming the embezzled funds on his personal income tax returns for tax years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, totaling $329,895.
In 2003, NOFPRF gave Triche and his business partner, George Russell, at American Pension Consultants, $5 million to invest in life insurance policies, NOLA.com reported. After Russell died in 2007, Triche pocketed nearly $1 million of the profits, according to court documents, funneling the money to bank accounts he controlled 34 times between 2013 and 2016.
Triche pleaded guilty to the wire fraud and tax fraud charges last March. Upon his release from prison, he will serve one year of supervised release.