The Mobile Police Department said John Libunao, 47, scammed two Mardi Gras organizations out of thousands of dollars. He allegedly used the groups’ debit cards to make personal purchases of more than $3,600.
Tessie Tillery and Kelley Dunaway head up the Order of Hebe Mardi Gras Organization, a group where children between the ages of 13 and 19 are shown the ropes of Carnival Season.
It started back in 2010 with the help of former president, John Libunao.
“He’s been a real big part of the organization, given a lot to the kids,” Dunaway said. “He’s known around Mobile for his love of Mardi Gras, and he really, really enjoyed giving to the organization.
But Mobile Police said he was also ‘taking’ from it, to the sum of nearly $700.
That’s a tough one to explain to the young people who once looked up to him.
“The kids, they love him, they know that he’s always doing everything that he can to support them, and help the organization grow, so it’s just very disheartening that he would do this to them,” Tillery said. “At this time, he has not shown any remorse, he hasn’t given any of the possessions that he has of the organization back, and I’m hoping in that aspect he’ll do the right thing.”
Libunao once held leadership positions in the organizations, but FOX10 News has been told he recently lost his job.
So FOX10 News went to his home for his side of things, but was not given a comment.
Our Russell Colburn asked Dunaway and Tillery what they would ask Libunao if given the chance.
“Just tell me what happened,” Dunaway answered. “What caused you to take from our kids? That’s really the only thing I want to know, just honestly, what happened? What’s going on in your life?”
“I would ask him to at least have the decency to talk to the kids face-to-face, and explain to him why he did what he did,” Tillery replied.
However, Mobile Police say the alleged actions didn’t stop with Hebe.
The Mobile Mardi Gras Parading Association acts as the voice for Mardi Gras groups, coordinating events and providing support.
Libunao, the then treasurer, is accused of taking nearly $2,900 from the group in the same way.
“It’s a sad thing that happened; I’m disappointed that it happened, but it will not have an impact on Mardi Gras,” said the group’s president, who chose to remain anonymous. “All of the organizations that are a member of our association function independently. Nothing that has happened to us will impact them.
“[It's] disappointing,” the president added. “I wish it hadn’t happened, causing us to change the way we do things. But come April, when we start over, this will be behind us and everything will be just fine.”
The organizations weren’t able to tell Colburn what exactly Libunao allegedly bought. They’re just hoping to get their money back.
Of course, if he’s convicted, restitution will be handled through the court system.
Libunao is out on bond, facing second degree charges of theft of property – deception.