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Tag: New Orleans

It’s About Time: New Orleans Hires Ex-Fed Prosecutor and Another Atty to Deal With Ethics and Fed Probes

Better late than never. New Orleans could have used something like this a long long long time ago.

David Laufman/law photo

David Laufman/law office photo

Karen Sloan
National Law Journal

New Orleans has hired two attorneys from New York’s Kelley Drye & Warren to advise it on ethical issues and regarding a myriad of federal investigations targeting the city.

Washington-based partner David Laufman will lead the firm’s efforts with the assistance of associate Andrew Wein, according to the city contract. Laufman, formerly an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, specializes in white collar crime and federal investigations.

“In essence, I will help guide the city with its compliance through the course of this investigative action,” Laufman said. “I have counseled many individuals and companies grappling with investigations, but this is the first time I’ve provided this type of advice to a municipality.”

Laufman’s contract with the city extends from August through the end of October, and it appears there will be no lack of work. Federal authorities are investigating at least three matters involving City Hall, according to reports by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and other published accounts.

For Full Story

Federal Grand Jury Zeroes in on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

Mayor Nagin/city photo
Mayor Nagin/city photo

Needless to say, New Orleans doesn’t need another scandal, particularly involving a high profile politician.

By David Hammer
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS –In the clearest sign to date that a federal grand jury is zeroing in on Mayor Ray Nagin, the U.S. attorney’s office issued subpoenas recently asking for the mayor’s missing e-mail messages and for others involving key players in the city’s crime-camera contracts.

The Louisiana Technology Council, a firm hired by the Nagin administration to determine what happened to the e-mail messages, said Tuesday that its subcontractors, after receiving a pair of subpoenas, turned over to the federal government some of the data it retrieved.

The issuance of the subpoenas was first disclosed in a civil lawsuit filed Monday by the city, which fired LTC last month, claiming it breached a confidentiality agreement. In response to the lawsuit, LTC released the subpoenas.

Christopher Reade of Carrollton Technology Partners, an LTC subcontractor, received a subpoena July 22 commanding him to testify before the grand jury on July 24 and demanding that he turn over “any and all recovered e-mails involving C. Ray Nagin, Gregory Meffert, Anthony Jones, Mark St. Pierre and/or Harrison Boyd from May 2002 to the present.”

For Full Story

New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to 2008 Killing of DEA Agent Attending Drug Conference

Thomas Bryne/DEA photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 47-year-old man  pleaded guilty Thursday to the 2008 slaying of Houston DEA Agent Thomas J. Byrne,  who was visiting New Orleans to attend a Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force conference.

Ameal Parker, aka Ameal Varnado of New Orleans, pleaded guilty in the slaying of agent Byrne, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans announced. He faces a 30-year prison sentence under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the judge.

Authorities said that  Byrne was beaten during a robbery in New Orleans in the early morning hours of Aug. 28. He died two days later at Tulane University Hospital.

Ameal Parker/dea photo

Ameal Parker/dea photo

Bryne was married and had four sons.

Read Washington Post Obit from Sept. 5, 2008

Read DEA Press Release

And the Answer is: Ex-Rep William Jefferson Won’t Testify at His Trial

After all the speculation and suspense, in the end, the defense played it safe and decided not to let Jefferson take the stand on his own behalf. With 16 counts, the odds are stacked against the Congressman. So it may be hard to tell whether it was the right move.

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Former Rep. William Jefferson is not expected to testify in his federal corruption trial, his attorney said today, setting up the possibility that the defense could open and rest its case Thursday.

Lead attorney Robert Trout told Judge T.S. Ellis III, that “we do not expect” to call the nine-term Democrat to testify on his on behalf.

Ellis said both sides had assured him they could wrap up the case by mid-day Thursday, when the court will recess for a long weekend, staying out through Monday. Closing arguments could begin when court resumes Tuesday, with the jury getting the case later next week.

For Full Story

FBI Agents Collecting Data From New Orleans City Hall

new-orleans-map-istockIf any FBI office is busy with public corruption, it’s New Orleans. The presence of FBI agents at city hall comes as the state’s infamous ex-Rep. William J. Jefferson is on trial in Alexandria, Va., on public corruption charges.

By David Hammer
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — FBI agents have been in New Orleans City Hall since Friday collecting data from computer-network servers and backup tapes, according to a city official familiar with the investigation.

Five federal agents have tied up the work of management information systems employees as they comb through the data stored on the servers. The agents are expected to be in City Hall all week, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous because the investigation has not been made public.

The agents came bearing federal subpoenas seeking information and met with Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Hatfield, the source said.

City spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett on Tuesday evening stopped just short of denying that a federal subpoena had been served at City Hall.

For Full Story

The Latest from the Jefferson Trial (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

FBI Looking into at Least 3 Cases Involving New Orleans Police Officers

new-orleans-police-badge

One of the great checks and balances of local power involves the FBI’s ability to investigate local police departments. Down in Cajun country, the FBI has its hands full.

By Laura Maggi
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — The FBI is looking into at least three cases involving New Orleans police officers, a fact pointed out last week in a Fraternal Order of Police e-mail reminding officers of their right to consult attorneys before they are interviewed by agents.

Two of the cases stem from the days following Hurricane Katrina, including a recently begun FBI probe into possible police involvement in the case of a charred body found inside a burned car on an Algiers levee.

The FBI is looking into whether police committed a civil rights violation against the 31-year-old man whose remains were pulled out of the car in the weeks after the storm.

For Full Story

New Orleans Fed Jury Sentences Bank Robber to Death for Killing Sheriff’s Deputy

When a law enforcement person is killed a jury’s indignation always seems to be greater. In this case the indignation translated into a death penalty.

new-orleans1

By Paul Rioux
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — A jury sentenced John Wayne Johnson to death Wednesday for killing an Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputy during a botched Algiers bank robbery in 2004, just the second death penalty imposed in New Orleans federal court since capital punishment was restored for federal crimes in 1988.

The jury deliberated three hours before reaching its unanimous decision. That same jury had found Johnson guilty on May 19 of killing Lt. Sidney Zaffuto in a Jan. 8, 2004 gun battle inside the former Iberia Bank on Gen. DeGaulle Drive, where Zaffuto was working an off-duty detail.

In making their case for the death penalty, prosecutors had presented testimony from one of Johnson’s accomplices in the bank robbery that Johnson, 56, had committed a murder in 1974 in Jefferson Parish, which had gone unsolved. That accomplice, Herbert Smith, 63, said in a videotaped deposition, that Johnson had admitted to him that he killed Joe Gennaro, the owner of Ruiz’s Restaurant during a robbery on May 3, 1974.

For Full Story

New New Orleans FBI Chief David Welker Low Key So Far

David Welker

David Welker

David Welker, head of the New Orleans FBI, may be low key, but if things goes as planned in a state ripe with corruption, he’ll be a household name before you know it.
By Brendan McCarthy
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — Like countless times before, the news conference began with six or so middle-age men dressed in dark, natty suits standing behind the lectern in a nondescript room, high up in a federal office building.

An aide handed out a press release, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten delved into facts of the criminal case, and down the line, the head of each law enforcement agency stepped to the microphone and lauded the efforts of his subordinates.

Except for one. The silent one was the newly appointed head of the local FBI office, perhaps the most powerful man in the room — and possibly the only one who doesn’t care whether you know it.

Meet David Welker, new face of the FBI in New Orleans.

Welker, 54, carries the lofty title of special agent in charge, but he isn’t easily recognized in a sidewalk crowd or on the society page.

A native of Shamokin, Pa., with a degree in Bible studies, Welker left the manicured streets and suburban sprawl of Tampa, Fla., last summer for a city where public corruption seems a pastime and violent crime is a brand. Expectations are high; citizens expect a steady flow of indictments.

In his few months in New Orleans, the questions have become commonplace. What’s next?

“People are waiting for that big one to fall,” Welker acknowledged.

For Full Story