LSU booster gets 33 months in prison for embezzlement

A Louisiana man who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000 from a hospital foundation and giving some of the stolen money to the parents of two former LSU football players was sentenced to federal prison Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced John Paul Funes, the former president and CEO of Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Foundation in Baton Rouge, to 33 months in federal prison.

Funes pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud and money laundering on June 4. He faced up to 20 years in prison for each of the two charges against him. Funes also paid $796,000 in restitution.

Funes' attorney, James Walter Green, didn't immediately respond to an interview request from ESPN.

Federal prosecutors alleged Funes defrauded the foundation, which raised money for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, from 2012 to September 2018 by submitting bogus payment authorization vouchers and check requests, including checks to himself.

Funes' alleged misconduct was discovered during an internal audit in August 2018 and he was fired in November 2018.

Among other allegations, federal prosecutors said Funes caused and/or approved dozens of payments to "individuals who did little or no work for the foundation but to whom the defendant wanted to provide financial assistance," according to a bill of information in the federal criminal case.

Prosecutors alleged Funes approved payments of approximately $180,000 to an individual identified as "Individual C" in the bill of information.

Sources told ESPN that "Individual C" is the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander, who was a four-year starter for the Tigers from 2012 to 2015. His father, James Alexander, is a self-employed entrepreneur in Atlanta.

The bill of information didn't specify when the payments to James Alexander were allegedly made. The Baton Rouge Business Report reported in June that Funes sent the money to James Alexander when his son was still playing for the Tigers, which might be a violation of NCAA rules regarding impermissible benefits.

According its 2017 federal tax return, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation made a $15,000 grant to the Tiger Booster Clubs, which supports LSU athletics.

In a previous statement, LSU senior associate athletics director Robert Munson said LSU "was made aware of specific allegations by OLOL officials in late 2018 and made the information immediately available to the NCAA. As this is an ongoing inquiry, LSU will have no further comment."

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Funes caused 11 checks from the foundation to be issued to an individual living in Florida and seven more to be issued to the individual's daughter. The checks to "Individual A" and "Individual B" totaled about $107,000, according to the bill of information.

Former LSU quarterback Rohan Davey confirmed to the Baton Rouge Business Report in June that his mother and sister are "Individual A" and "Individual B" in the bill of information.

Prosecutors alleged that Funes submitted numerous vouchers in which he fraudulently represented that the money was needed to pay for home medical care and other expenses for an OLOL Children's Hospital patient. But Davey's mother and sister, nor any of their family members, had ever been patients at the hospital. Prosecutors said "Individual A" and "Individual B" funneled about $63,000 back to Funes.

Davey played at LSU from 1998 to 2001 and was selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL draft. The payments were allegedly made to his mother and sister after he left LSU.

The government said Funes also used stolen money from the foundation to pay for charter flights for his family and friends, to purchase gift cards for his personal use, and to pay for tickets to sporting events.

Prosecutors alleged Funes submitted numerous vouchers in which he "fraudulently represented that Foundation funds were necessary to pay the flight company to make time-sensitive 'outbound patient transports' from Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital."

"Funes gained control of the checks, forwarded them to the flight company, and then used the charter company's services for his own personal benefit," the bill of information says.

On Dec. 31, 2017, for instance, Funes allegedly chartered a flight to take his family and friends to Tampa, Florida, to watch a New Orleans Saints game, and then from Tampa to Orlando to watch LSU play in the Citrus Bowl. The flights cost the foundation more than $14,000.