Former Port Allen mayor appears for sentencing on racketeering - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Former Port Allen mayor sentenced on racketeering charges

Former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis Former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

The former mayor of Port Allen is expected in federal court Tuesday for sentencing on a corruption charge related to Operation Blighted Officials.

Former Mayor Derek Lewis pleaded guilty last year to racketeering shortly after resigning. As part of a plea deal, a dozen or more charges were dropped.

The deal also states Lewis should serve no more than five years in prison. Judge Brian Jackson decided Lewis will serve 40 months in prison and is sentenced to two years of supervised probation. He is also required to pay back $19,000.

When Lewis was on the stand, he apologized to the court for his actions and his family broke down and began to cry. Some of them had to be escorted out of the courtroom.

"I wouldn't say I was on the take," Lewis said in an interview on June 4, 2011. "My attorney is going to kill me. I did receive gifts or perks. Right now, that's all I can say."

As part of the investigation, undercover FBI agents posed as businessmen of a garbage can cleaning system and hooked officials into using their positions for personal gain.

They said Lewis agreed to get other mayors on board in exchange for fancy hotel rooms and tickets to sporting events, among other perks.

A list of evidence against Lewis was read in court, including: accepting Bayou Classic tickets after writing letters the city was committed to signing deals with Cifer 5000, tickets to see the Saints play the Raiders and Patriots, obtaining confidential law enforcement documents for luxury suites and nights on the town in New Orleans, as well as dinners at Ruth's Chris and Drago's.

Lewis has until July 23, 2012 to report to prison.

The status of the other Operation Blighted Officials defendants:

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.

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.

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.

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.

George L. Grace, Sr.: In March 2012, the former Mayor of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, was convicted by a federal jury following a six week trial of violating RICO, engaging in honest services wire and mail fraud, bribery, obstruction of justice, making false statements, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks detained Grace pending his sentencing scheduled in August 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.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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