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Louisiana public official accused of stealing relief supplies

KENNER, La.—Three weeks after looters broke into storm-damaged buildings in New Orleans, investigators in the nearby city of Kenner allege a top municipal officer illegally pilfered supplies meant for survivors of Hurricane Katrina, officials said Thursday.

Police seized stockpiles of relief items this week from the home of Kenner's chief administrative officer, Cedric Floyd. He was accused Thursday of malfeasance in office, said Kenner Police Capt. Steve Caraway.

"We found a lot of food, cases of food, cases of drinks, chain saws, lanterns, canopies to cover roofs, a mattress, a shop vac—just a whole lot of hurricane-related materials," Caraway told Knight Ridder.

Floyd could not be reached for comment but has denied wrongdoing in published reports. Caraway said a warrant had been issued for his arrest and that Floyd's attorney had been notified.

Police were tipped off about the alleged looting after National Guardsmen working at the relief distribution center in Kenner complained that Floyd, who was overseeing the center, was taking items meant for Katrina survivors.

The supplies had been donated from organizations as far away as Florida and Canada, according to a city press release. Police raided Floyd's home Tuesday night and found truckloads of supplies in his house and adjacent storage shed.

Caraway said a public malfeasance probe, conducted jointly with the state attorney general's office, could turn up more items and more people involved.

The day after police seized the relief supplies, Kenner Mayor Phil Capitano suspended Floyd without pay, pending its own investigation.

Calls placed to Floyd's home went unanswered. A call placed to Capitano's office was not returned. In an interview with the Times-Picayune newspaper, Floyd denied doing anything wrong.

"It was no abusive situation," Floyd told the paper. "The city workers had the opportunity to get a few things for their family just like everybody else."

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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