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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Orleans Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Federal Bribery and Honest Services Wire Fraud

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that LESTER MORNAY, 68, of New Orleans, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to a one-count Bill of Information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman sentenced MORNAY to one year of probation and a $100 special assessment. Additionally, MORNAY was ordered to participate in the Rise and Recovery Program.

According to court records, beginning in September 2013 and continuing until January 2015, MORNAY and several others participated in a conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. Court records indicate that IRA THOMAS, in his role as an Orleans Parish School Board (“OPSB”) Member, engaged in a scheme to defraud Orleans Parish and its citizens of his honest services through bribery and a kickback scheme, whereby THOMAS used his public office and official capacity to provide favorable treatment, including attempting to facilitate the awarding of a contract, that was designed to benefit the business and financial interest of an individual who provided him with a bribe and kickback in the form of cash payment disguised as a campaign contribution.

Additionally, court records show that in September 2013, a cooperating witness (“CW”) was approached by ARMER BRIGHT, an OPSB employee, who offered the CW a janitorial services contract that would soon be up for bid by the OPSB in exchange for a monetary payoff. During the fall of 2013, the CW, THOMAS, BRIGHT, and at times MORNAY, met to discuss this contract. These conversations were recorded by the CW with the assistance of the FBI. Ultimately, it was decided that the CW would pay $5,000 to THOMAS in the form of a “campaign contribution” in exchange for THOMAS’ and the OPSB employee’s assistance regarding the janitorial services contract. In December 2013, the CW delivered $5,000 in cash to MORNAY acting as a conduit for THOMAS, which was video recorded. This money was then delivered to THOMAS. During the fall of 2014, THOMAS and BRIGHT discussed over recorded telephone conversations how to alter the bid process so that the CW would be given an improper advantage in bidding for the janitorial services contract, which was valued over $5,000.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Toomey was in charge of the prosecution.

Topic: 
Public Corruption
Updated January 25, 2017