Hautes-Pyrénées: six members of an association for foster children suspected of embezzling more than 1 million euros

the essential
Six people from the same family, members of the association specializing in the reception of children placed by the ASE “A roof for you” in Générest, are suspected of embezzling more than 1 million euros in assistance from the Departmental Council of the Hautes-Pyrenees.

Two years of investigation, a case more than 70 cm thick, and more than a million euros in criminal assets seized by bagnères-de-Bigorre gendarmes. On June 14, six members of the same family, and the office of the association specializing in child care placed by Childhood Social Assistance (ASE) “A roof for you”, established in Générest and Anère in Hautes-Pyrénées, were arrested and placed in police custody.

Suspected of breach of trust, fraud, gross tax evasion and money laundering, the leading couple and their relatives have established a system to take the lead by redirecting part of the assistance provided by the Hautes-Pyrénées Departmental Council to foster children. And this for several years.

“This association from 1901 is financed exclusively by public funds, especially those granted by the Hautes-Pyrénées departmental council. The audit by an auditor in 2020 revealed excessive purchases that did not meet the association’s purpose,” said the head of Bagnères-de -Bigorre Company, Paul Sandevoir.
“Alert, the public prosecutor seized the gendarmerie in Saint-Laurent-de-Neste and requested a full judicial inquiry. At the same time, the County Council, victim of the association’s erratic leadership, filed a complaint.”

And to pay tribute to the perseverance of the Director of Investigation, Police Officer David A. of the Saint-Laurent-de-Neste Brigade, who with the support of the Interregional Gendarmerie Group in Toulouse (GIRG) worked to unravel the bag of knots, auditor of the association with suspicious expenses.

Stones and cars

The association’s premises “A roof for you” in Générest
Photo Gendarmerie 65

Place of Independent Living (LVA) created in 2014 in Générest, “A roof for you” is in favor of well-being and psychological reconstruction of the children who are cared for. On the website of the association, which employs several staff totally acquitted in the case, we can read all the good intentions of the leadership couple regarding children in difficulty.

Our residence proposes to accommodate six teenagers from seven to twenty-one years in individual rooms. We like this picture of the protection of the “roof”, the young person who is welcomed must feel safe to be able to settle down and If the preliminary investigation has shown that the children have not been subjected to physical or mental abuse, the association has achieved great savings, especially by “agreeing with the tax system”, and by exploiting various in-kind donations.

“For example, they collected unsold food from supermarkets,” the gendarmes said without going into detail with the investigation. But to cover expenses in connection with pension, housing, care, education … the department council pays a monthly envelope of approx. 4,500 euros pr. children placed in the structure. The savings thus obtained were then passed on to family members in the form of bonuses, in addition to pleasant salaries. »

In addition, several vehicles have been procured by the association under the pretext of transporting the children to their medical or other appointments. The latter rarely had the pleasure of climbing up the Mégane Sport or the other race cars, as the couple preferred to use taxi companies to drive their residents.

The investigation continues

“The police’s custody and the searches carried out helped to support the hypotheses formulated during the investigation. The seizures made relating to real estate, a dozen vehicles and financial products exceed one million euros. »

A fine catch for the gendarmerie, which has mobilized many resources for two years on this far-reaching case. “A property valuation expert located near the Pau Court of Appeal, six employees of the GIRG in Toulouse and 2 soldiers of the research brigade in Meaux (77), reinforced the action of the twenty-four gendarmes in the group of gendarmerie. Hautes-Pyrénées.”

If some of the acquired goods have been seized, some will still remain for use in the building. At a time when the wards are suffering from a cruel shortage of accommodation for children in care, the decision was made by the judge investigating the case to keep “A roof for you” in operation.

The couple and their relatives were released after 48 hours in police custody. On the other hand, the preliminary investigation continues to determine the degree of responsibility of each individual in this affair.

Michel Pélieu, chairman of the department council, wants all light to be shed on this affair

Michel Pélieu, chairman of the department council, wants all light to be shed on this affair
NR archives – LAURENT DARD

“We want to be even more vigilant”

“A roof for you? A roof for them yes! Anger, the chairman of the department council, Michel Pélieu, does not shy away from his words to the respondents. From 2020, their expensive lifestyle attracted suspicion from the Childhood Social Assistance Services (ASE).

“But the 2020 budget presented by the association was completely compatible and there was no evidence to confirm a possible dysfunction at that time. Only the agents of ASE continue to pay close attention to the functioning of the structure until more accounting irregularities occur. .

Ask for accounts

“The Departmental Council of Hautes-Pyrénées filed a complaint on 16 February 2021 for breach of trust. We have worked closely with the police and will continue in this direction so that all light is shed on this affair,” assures Michel Pélieu, who does not lay down hide his dissatisfaction and his indignation.

“Justice will judge the guilt of the members of this association. If the circumstances for which they are being prosecuted are confirmed, the ministry will of course seek compensation for the damage. And to add that the services of the branch council must double their vigilance in the future.

Disproportionate packages?

“It is unacceptable to see people enrich themselves in the misfortune of others. Unfortunately, there is an increase in this type of action in the national territory. This forces us to be increasingly vigilant. “If the Hautes-Pyrénées Departmental Council pays a flat rate of 152 euros per day per child placed to cover childcare, education, food, travel expenses … Michel Pélieu believes it may be time to revise these amounts .

“The Child Protection Act obliges us to do so. But personally, I find that these packages are out of proportion to the support paid for the autonomy of the elderly, 60 euros / day on average. I do not question the social dimension, and that “It’s normal for people to make a living from their work, which is the reception of children in great difficulty. But to abuse the trust we have in them in no way.”

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