FORMER MAYOR AND PRESIDENT OF THE
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK MAYORS SENTENCED TO 22 YEARS
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr., announced today a historic sentence imposed in connection with Operation Blighted Officials. U.S. District Judge Maurice A. Hicks sentenced GEORGE L. GRACE, SR., age 68, of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, to twenty-two (22) years imprisonment, a $50,000 fine, forfeiture of $22,000, and a year of supervised release following imprisonment. The sentence is based on GRACE’s corrupt activities while serving as the Mayor of St. Gabriel and the President of the National Conference of Black Mayors. It is believed to be the longest public corruption prison sentence in the history of Louisiana.
Earlier this year GRACE was convicted by a jury following a six week trial of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), obstruction of justice, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery involving a federally-funded entity, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. At sentencing, the court determined that GRACE was responsible for over four different bribery schemes involving over nine (9) million dollars, including schemes to extort businessmen seeking to do business in the city and help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. Attorney Cazayoux stated: “This historic sentence should send a loud and clear message that those engaged in public corruption will face severe punishment, and hopefully, any public official who might consider such a path will take heed.”
Status of Other Operation Blighted Officials Defendants
Thomas A. Nelson, Jr.: In June 2011, the former Mayor of New Roads, Louisiana, was convicted by a federal jury following a two and a half week trial of violating RICO, engaging in honest services wire fraud, using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering, and making false statements to the FBI. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Nelson to 132 months in prison.
Maurice Brown: In February 2011, the former Mayor of White Castle, Louisiana, was convicted by a federal jury following a two week trial of violating RICO, engaging in honest services wire and mail fraud, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Brown to 120 months in prison.
Frederick W. Smith: In October 2011, the Chief of Police for Port Allen, Louisiana, was convicted by a federal jury following a two week trial of 11 counts of violating RICO, engaging in honest services wire and mail fraud, and using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Smith to 90 months in prison.
Derek Lewis: In July 2011, the former Mayor of Port Allen, Louisiana, pled guilty to violating RICO and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Lewis to 40 months imprisonment.
Johnny Johnson: In July 2010, the former member of the Port Allen City Council pled guilty to using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Johnson to two years probation, with a condition of having to spend 6 months in a half-way house.
Richard Chambers: In July 2012, the former deputy commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance pled guilty to using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering and agreed to cooperate with authorities. He is set to be sentenced by Chief Judge Jackson in November 2012.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.
Operation Blighted Officials is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Corey R. Amundson, M. Patricia Jones, and Michael J. Jefferson.
If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org