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Supervisors: Had to pay Ladners for debris work

HANCOCK COUNTY — Hancock County supervisors learned after the work was done that a former road manager had given post-Hurricane Katrina debris cleanup contracts to family members.

By that point, they told the Sea Coast Echo, they had to pay for the work completed.

The federal government wants to seize $1.3 million from accounts controlled by Roger Ladner and his wife, plus cashier’s checks allegedly located during a search of Ladner’s home in May.

In October, an FBI agent said in a sworn statement that the Ladners and others are targets in an FBI criminal probe regarding ditch-cleaning contracts awarded after Katrina.

The seizure of the money, however, is part of a civil action. No arrests have been made in the case.

After Katrina, Ladner was given permission by the Hancock County Board of Supervisors to award contracts for debris removal and ditch cleaning. Ladner awarded several projects to family members, and other local companies. The amount of those contracts eventually totaled about $7.3 million, according to court records.

The work was done during the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006, records show.

On or about January 2007, money began being funneled back to the control of Roger or Sharon Ladner, according to the government.

Minutes from the board of supervisors during March 2006 show that supervisors attempted to hold some of the claims, but later paid them all.

The board got two bids for ditch cleaning work, and authorized Ladner to find contractors who would work for the bid price or below it.

Board members said they wanted to get local residents working again after Katrina.

The board had allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the major debris cleanup project, and many locals were not being hired as subcontractors.

The ditch-cleaning project included replacing culverts, grading ditches, and additional debris removal.

Ladner awarded 56 contracts, which ultimately totaled $7.3 million. Most of the contracts were awarded to residents or companies based in Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River, or Forrest counties. Two of contracts were awarded to Ladner’s brothers, Billy Wayne and Donald Ladner.

Billy Wayne Ladner received the largest of the 56 contracts, netting nearly $1 million.

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