Former port commission vice president accused of stealing $1 million

Published by HoumaToday.com

By Dan Copp

Posted Jan 31, 2019 at 9:35 PMUpdated Jan 31, 2019 at 9:35 PM

A local businessman and former vice president of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission was arrested today after stealing nearly $1 million from his clients, authorities said.

Kristian “Kris” Gaudet, 45, of Cut Off, is charged with two counts of felony theft, the Lafourhce Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

The suspect, who owns Kris Gaudet Insurance and Financial Services, became the focus of an investigation late last year when a couple from Cut Off became suspicious of their investments with him, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The couple found discrepancies in their records for a $350,000 investment made to “Winston Financial,” a company Gaudet registered in Louisiana in 2012, authorities said. Investigators learned Gaudet provided false addresses and other information.

After obtaining a search warrant for Gaudet’s financial records, they found the couple’s check had been deposited into the Winston Financial account in August 2017, authorities said. Gaudet then transferred a majority of that money into another account and used it “for purposes for which it was not intended,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

In May, another couple had also invested money with Gaudet, who transferred a large amount of that money into another account and used it to buy a home in Larose, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators said that since 2012 Gaudet has frequently used money he received from investors for personal gain including using money clients paid for insurance to buy real estate.

Gaudet has been barred from associating with financial institutions after being issued an official cease-and-desist notice, and his Louisiana license has been suspended, authorities said.

A warrant was then obtained for Gaudet’s arrest, and he was booked into the Lafourche Parish jail Thursday on a $1 million bond, authorities said.

Gaudet served as vice president of the Port Commission until he was defeated Nov. 6 by fellow Republican Jimmy “T-Jim” LaFont. Gaudet served one six-year term on the Port Commission.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who has made an investment with Gaudet and his company since 2012 to come forward. Those who obtained insurance policies through Gaudet and his company are also asked to contact their primary insurers to ensure their accounts are in good standing.

If you find any discrepancies in your records, call the Sheriff’s Office at 532-4320.

The investigation into Gaudet was conducted by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, FBI, Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Department of Insurance Fraud Division.

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