St. Landry Parish School Board Member Convicted On Bribery Charges
LAFAYETTE, La. –United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today a federal jury found St. Landry Parish School Board member Quincy Richard Sr., 51, of Opelousas, La., guilty of taking bribes for his vote in favor of a former candidate for St. Landry Parish Superintendent. United States District Judge Richard T. Haik presided over the trial.
On August 20, 2013, after a two-day trial, a jury found Richard guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery after deliberating for about an hour. Based on witness testimony and documents admitted into evidence, Richard was shown to have conspired with fellow St. Landry Parish School Board member John Miller, 72, of Opelousas, to receive bribe money from former school board superintendent candidate Joseph Cassimere in return for their support. During July, August and September of 2012, Richard and Miller had a number of private meetings with Cassimere where they negotiated price and payment from Cassimere in exchange for their favorable individual votes as school board members in support of Cassimere’s candidacy for superintendent. At the same time the screening process for the superintendent position was ongoing and by the week of September 16, 2012, five applicants had been publicly named. The final vote was scheduled for September 26, 2012.
The defendants met with Cassimere on September 24, 2012 at the Quarters Restaurant in Opelousas and received $5,000 each in return for their votes. They made it clear that Cassimere had also secured their services, efforts, influence and due diligence to secure the votes of other members of the school board for Cassimere’s candidacy. Richard added that Cassimere could also recoup his $10,000 bribe by adding that amount to his salary request. Richard and Miller instructed Cassimere on how to make and justify a meritorious salary request above the amount listed for the superintendent’s salary as advertised. This conversation of September 24, 2012 had been under FBI video and audio surveillance. After the defendants exited the restaurant, they were confronted by the FBI who recovered the $5,000 payments. Miller was indicted on October 24, 2012 and resigned from his position as a school board member July 28, 2013. Miller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery July 1, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Finley stated, “This case was about illegally selling votes. Quincy Richard was thinking about himself, not about the children, the community or the school system. The jury listened to the witnesses, reviewed the evidence and justice was served. Without citizens who come forward, bribery like this would corrode our public servants. This is a great step for the School Board. I hope they can now move forward and take care of the educational work that needs to be addressed for the people of Opelousas.”
“The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate any public corruption undermining critical government institutions that support children such as our public school systems,” said Michael J. Anderson, FBI Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Division.
Richard faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years in prison for the conspiracy to commit bribery count. He also faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release for each bribery count. Miller faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bribery. Sentencing dates have not been set.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alexandria Resident Agency, conducted the investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard C. Parker is prosecuting the case.