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Lake Charles Cane-Lacassine Mill fails to buy property

Last Modified: Monday, May 13, 2013 5:22 PM

Special to the American Press

LACASSINE — The Lake Charles Cane-Lacassine Mill defaulted on its obligation to buy the failed Lacassine sugar cane syrup mill, according to an audit of the Louisiana Agriculture Finance Authority.

The LAFA  declared the loan default in March which resulted in the removal of $60 million and $9.3 million from the authority's notes receivable and accrued interest received amounts, according to the audit.

The 38-page audit, compiled by the Legislative Auditor's Office, was released Monday on the state's website.

The LAFA took ownership of the $8 million mill last September.

The LAFA and the State Market Commission guaranteed two loans by the Lake Charles Cane, on which the company has defaulted, the audit stated. The outstanding principal and interest on the loans total $6.5 million has been included in the authorities' liabilities.

The net effect of these adjustments is a decrease in net assets of $67 million.

The 19th Judicial District Court of East Baton Rouge Parish issued a final judgement of $4.6 million in favor of Texans Credit Union pursuant to a lawsuit filed against the authority and other parities to enforce a State Market Commission guarantee on a loan to the Louisiana State Cypress, which defaulted on its obligation to Texans in 2010.

The LAFA and the Texans agreed to settle the lawsuit of $1.2 million last September, relieving the LAFA of the additional $3.3 million loss.

The $60 million mill was built in 2006 on 200 acres of state-owned land just off La. 101 in Lacassine by former Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom. Odom used bond debt backed by revenues from the state's slot machines and state workers to build the mill and a nearby rail spur.  The goal of the facility was to reduce transportation costs of sugar cane and road congestion caused by trucks transporting the cane to mills.

The state Agriculture Department later sold the mill to the Lake Charles Cane-Lacassine Mill. It operated for two harvest seasons, but has sat idle since 2008.

Plans to build an ethanol plant at the site were never developed.

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