Ball mayoral candidate cited for theft of non-profit

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BALL, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office has cited a Town of Ball mayoral candidate who is also the pastor of the Esler Pentecostal Church for theft following a complaint made back on Sept. 16.

Roger Toney | Photo Source: KALB

Roger Toney, 69 of Pineville, the former mayor of the Town of Ball, who is also running for mayor in this year's election, was issued a criminal citation for theft under $1,000.

According to investigators, deputies received a complaint from a local area non-profit organization about allegations of internal theft. The complaint stated that funds were removed without permission from a financial account associated with the organization, which News Channel 5 has learned was the local food pantry in Ball.

During the course of the investigation, Toney was developed as a suspect. Detectives established sufficient probable cause to cite Toney on Sept. 27.

News Channel 5 reached out to Sheriff William Earl Hilton about the citation and to have him explain why Toney wasn't booked into the jail.

"This was a ticket, he was never booked in jail, he was just issued a citation just like it would be for instance if it was a driving violation or something," said Sheriff Hilton. "That's the option law enforcement has on a misdemeanor and citation in lieu of an arrest."

We asked Sheriff Hilton if the citation, which could have been an actual arrest, had anything to do with Toney running for office.

"The sheriff's office doesn't need to get caught up in a political issue in Ball, they got enough issues of their own without us getting in it," said Hilton. "It is just kind of one of those things, he said she said type of thing, that the food pantry and the church and he was a pastor of the church and served on the board at the pantry, so it may not even be a true theft I guess when you get down to it. What we want to do is get rid of the damn thing and let the DA deal with it when he gets it."

Toney stopped by News Channel 5 on Tuesday to tell his account of what happened with the food pantry funds.

"I went into the bank to get moneys that we were going to use for a missionary visit to our church....I walked up to the teller and asked the teller to give me $425 from the church account," Toney told Channel 5.

"...Finally, I realized our church has two accounts - a missionary account, and then we have an account that's Esler Pentecostal Church doing business as the Ball Food Pantry. And what happened was when I asked for $425, they went into the account for the food pantry and got the $425 instead of the missionary account."

Toney went on to say that he tried to put the money back into the food pantry account once he realized the error that was made, but certain members of the food pantry board made a complaint to law enforcement before he could do so.

"..Well, the detective called me in; we talked about the situation. He understood the situation, so he said, 'Hey, why don't you just bring me the $425 back, and I'll give it to the pantry and they can be made whole?'"

But, Toney said, days later, the detective on the case told Toney that the people who made the complaints did not want his money, but wanted him arrested instead.

"...He said, 'I'm not going to arrest you...but I will give you a ticket...If you look at the total picture you'll know. You'll know I had no intent to take money. I had no intent to defraud. I had no intent to harm the ball food pantry..." Toney said.

Toney said he believes the complaint was politically motivated.

"I went to make it whole, and that wasn't what they wanted. They wanted to make a ball mayoral candidate look as bad as they could, because they got a candidate in the race. And I think that's the bottom line."

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