PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

December 14, 2006

EDC manager resigns under cloud of suspicion

Floyd Batiste, CEO for the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, expects to accept the resignation of the operation/compliance manager sometime this week.

Jana Barnes has been charged with bribery for allegedly accepting a benefit from EDC client Victor Tran. She has been on administrative leave with pay since the allegations were exposed.

“I have spoken to Jana as recently as today (Wednesday) and made my position known,” Batiste said. “She resigned and I will accept her resignation effective as soon as I receive it.”

Batiste said he expects to received Barnes’ resignation by Friday.

Tran, 41, is being charged with forgery and securing execution of a document by deception.

The CEO said that based upon talking with lawyers he is not aware of any other misconduct related to PAEDC contracts.

Barnes was employed with the EDC before Batiste was hired as CEO, he said.

“Prior to me being here she ran the office and started to turn it around,” he said. “We feel we (PAEDC) are making a difference.”

Barnes is credited with spearheading the recent Economic Development Week, a project considered a success by Batiste and the EDC board. She also worked with retention and expansion and helped businesses get back on their feet.

“Jana was a very loyal, faithful employee. She loved what she did and she did a good job. I’m already missing her because of the work she did. Now it has to be done by someone else,” he said. “I think the board would echo my feelings that Jana was an excellent employee. Yes, she made some mistakes.”

Tran is the owner of Pleasure Island Shrimp House, a business that benefited from the EDC’s funding. Sometime around Feb. 9, 2006, Pleasure Island Shrimp House received a $500,000 small interest loan from the EDC as part of an incentive to be paid back in six months. The loan was to be repaid with insurance proceeds the shrimp house was to receive from Hurricane Rita’s damages to the facility.

Of that money, Tran repaid $50,000. EDC Attorney Robin Woolridge said the corporation will pursue a lawsuit against the Pleasure Island Shrimp House for the remaining money plus legal fees, interest and any other fees related to the issue.

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