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Tag: New Orleans

Judge Orders Ex-Congressman William Jefferson to Prison

exRep. Jefferson at sentencing in 2009 /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Prison is calling for ex-Congressman William Jefferson, the New Orleans politician who gained national fame after the FBI found $90,000 stuffed in his freezer in 2005.

Bruce Alpert, the star reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reports that the fed judge in the case on Friday ordered Jefferson, 65, to report to prison by May 4 to begin serving his 13-year sentence for his public corruption convictions.  The judge revoked his $50,000 bail.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of Alexandria, Va., sentenced Jefferson in November 2009, but he remained free pending his appeal. The 13-year sentence is the toughest ever handed down to a member of Congress.

A three-judge panel for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month rejected Jefferson’s bid for a new trial.

The Times-Picayune reported that Jefferson’s attorneys plan to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The Picayune reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Lytle, speaking in Ellis’ courtroom Friday morning, said Jefferson wasn’t likely to prevail in future appeals.

Column: Retired FBI Agent Says Orleans Saints’ Bountygate Could be Prosecuted as a Conspiracy

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. This column also appeared in the New York Daily News.

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

What if several executives of a multimilliondollar national corporation hatched a plan to pay bounties to its employees to deliberately injure key employees of competing corporations?

Then put the plan in action, actually disabling key employees, thereby affecting those corporations’ ability to compete. It clearly would be something that should be criminally prosecuted.

As you may have guessed, this is just a generic business- term description of the un-Saintly bounty scheme New Orleans was apparently running. There have been reports there may be criminal prosecutions pursued. Apparently the NFL Players Association has warned players involved that they may face criminal charges.

The Associated Press reported that “most legal scholars agree that prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute on-field sports activity,” said Gabriel Feldman, a sports law professor at Tulane. “They’re difficult cases to bring, because it’s hard to prove the injury was caused by a tackle with specific intent to injure, rather than a regular tackle.”

I would agree with the prosecutors’ reluctance to prosecute on-field activity, but criminal prosecution of the Saints’ pay-for-injury scheme would not necessarily entail proving much specific on-field activity.

Instead of charging individual incidents as though they were a series of assaults and batteries, a criminal conspiracy could be charged using federal criminal law. Under the so-called Hobbs Act (18 USC 1951), a racketeering statute, whoever conspires to commit physical violence to any person in furtherance of a plan or purpose which in anyway or degree effects commerce is in violation of the statute. Clearly the NFL and all of its teams are involved in interstate commerce.

Those teams’ primary purpose is to compete with the other teams in the NFL and win football games. Thus illegal activity that impedes or obstructs a team’s ability to compete is adversely affecting commerce.

The other question to be answered is, would a conspiracy rewarding intentionally injuring opposing players be criminal? Football is a violent game and “hard hits” are encouraged, but within the rules. Late hits, unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct are proscribed by the rules. If the conspiracy encouraged hits, with the intent to cause injury regardless of whether the hit would or could result in a penalty, then it seems such conduct goes from being aggressive football to assault and battery under the guise of playing football.

The prosecution would not have to show specific injuries resulted from specific hits for which a bounty was paid. It need only show a conspiracy was formed to commit acts of illegal violence which affected interstate commerce. It now appears, like Watergate, there is compelling, recorded audio evidence of the conspiracy. Although I think this is viable prosecutorial theory, I’m not sure I would be enthusiastic about recommending or pursuing a criminal prosecution in Bountyate based on the facts that have been reported.

But I do have a concern. What if organized crime and professional gambling interests became aware of or participated in the pay-to-injure activities? (Who understands paying bounties for injuries better than the mob?) That would change the whole perspective. This is why it is important for the NFL to come down hard on the participants in Bountyate. The integrity of the game is at risk. The potential for criminal prosecution should not be dismissed, but rather held in abeyance.

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New Orleans Cops in Danziger Bridge Shooting Get Whacked at Sentencing

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A group of New Orleans cops convicted in connection with the shootings at the infamous Danziger Bridge got whacked at sentencing on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

Four of the officers got sentences ranging from 38 to 65 years in prison. A fifth officer, who was just involved in the cover up, got six years, the Justice Department announced.

The sentencing capped an ugly chapter in New Orleans history.

Days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the cops were involved in the shootings of six civilians. Two of the civilians died.

“We hope that today’s sentences give a measure of peace and closure to the victims of this terrible shooting, who have suffered unspeakable pain and who have waited so patiently for justice to be done. The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “As a result of today’s sentencing, the city of New Orleans can take another step forward.”

U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt the long sentences as follows:

  • Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, 40 years.
  • Sgt. Robert Gisevius, 40 years.
  • Officer Robert Faulcon, 65 years.
  • Officer Anthony Villavaso,38 years.
  • Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, 6 years.

 

 

Feds Charge New Orleans Man in 5 Murders Including an Off-Duty Cop

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A fed jury on Thursday issued a superseding indictment charging a New Orleans man with the murder of five people, one of whom was an off-duty New Orleans cop.

Steven Earl Hardrick, 27, was charged with violations of the federal controlled substances act and federal firearms laws, carjacking, witness tampering and murder.

The superseding indictment alleges that Hardrick allegedly carried out the Oct. 1, 2007, murder of Dwayne Landry; the Oct. 13, 2007, home invasion, shooting and killing of off-duty New Orleans Police Officer Thelonius Dukes; and the Oct. 24, 2007, carjacking and murder of Brett Jacobs, David Alford and Howard Pickens, the Justice Department said.

 

Appellate Judges Skeptical of Ex-Congressman Jefferson’s Appeal

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s been six years since FBI agents raided ex-Congressman William Jefferson’s Capitol Hill home and found $90,000 in his freezer, and more than two years since he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for bribery and other public corruption charges.

Still, the 64-year-old New Orleans politician, who lost Jefferson a re-election bid in 2008, hasn’t served one day in prison. He’s out awaiting the outcome of his appeal on a sentence that was the harshest ever given to a member of Congress for a public corruption conviction.

Last week, Appellate judges expressed skepticism about his appeal, according to New Orleans Times-Picayune star reporter Bruce Alpert. Jefferson was convicted in August 2009 of 11 of 16 counts.

Alpert writes that legal experts say Jefferson could get some of the 11 counts overturned.

But the question, according to the Times-Picayune, is whether getting some overturned will make a difference and prompt the stoic federal judge in Alexandria, Va. T.S. Ellis III to lower his sentence.

“He really needs a home run in his appeal, a triple or double might not help him,” Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University told the Picayune.

To read more click here.

 

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One More Officer Sentenced in New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge Incident

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Add five years to the Danziger Bridge prison time count. A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced Thursday to five years for his role on the bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina, according to a Justice Department statement.

Robert Barrios rode with other officers in a large Budget rental truck to the bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, according to the statement. The bridge was the scene where several officers were involved in a shooting incident that left two dead civilians, seriously injured four others and drew national attention.

Barrios admitted to agreeing with officers to obstruct justice as feds investigated the incident in April of last year. He also admitted to meeting with sergeants investigating the incident, who told him and other officers to get their stories straight before making official statements. Barrios admitted to lying to cover for fellow officers and sought to provide false and misleading information to make the bridge shooting appear legally justified.

Barrios is the fifth officer to cooperate and face sentencing in the Danziger case. Also serving time in federal prisons are former Lieutenant Michael Lohman, former Detective Jeffrey Lehrmann, and former Officers Michael Hunter and Ignatius Hills.

New Orleans Cop Gets 6 1/2 Years in Infamous Danziger Bridge Incident

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, back in 2005,  came the waves of chaos and police misconduct including murder and coverups.

In New Orleans on Wednesday, former New Orleans cop Ignatius Hills was sentenced to 6 1/2 years  in prison for his role in helping officers cover up the infamous Danziger Bridge shootings  on Sept. 4, 2005, which resulted in two dead and four wounded, according to the  Justice Department.

Authorities said Hills had previously testified as a prosecution witness, which resulted in convictions of the five New Orleans cops in the Danziger Bridge shootings.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman rejected the Justice Department’s recommendation that Hills get four years. The Associated Press reported that Hills had been sufficiently rewarded for his cooperation.

In a related matter, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Vance denied a government motion to reduce the eight-year sentence for former New Orleans cop Michael Hunter, who also pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government in the Danziger Bridge case, the Justice Department said.

 

FBI Assigns 2 Agents to N.O. Police Internal Affairs

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has assigned two agents to work full time in the New Orleans Police Department’s internal affairs unit, another move in a concerted effort to unearth corruption in the troubled department, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

“It’s the right thing to do at the right time,” said David Welker, special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Orleans division, according to the paper. “This relationship is not designed to make the FBI the NOPD’s Big Brother.”

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas applauded the move, saying:

“These two agents will work closely with us on systems of corruption, on civil rights investigations and to help in our in-service training programs.”

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