Author(s): BILL LODGE and KORAN ADDO Date: September
2, 2010 Section: News
Fort Allen Mayor Derek A. Lewis and Police Chief Frederick W. Smith were indicted Wednesday for alleged racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud in an ongoing FBI investigation of public corruption. U.S. Attorney Donald Cazayoux Jr. announced the indictment in Baton Rouge.
Lewis and Smith are alleged to have accepted bribes to promote a conceptual garbage-can cleaning service and to have improperly used state and federal law enforcement databases to obtain confidential information for unauthorized individuals.
The alleged bribes totaled at least $18,990 and were paid in cash, tickets to professional and college sporting events, free use of a suite at the Super Dome and meals, the indictment states.
Smith, 39, is alleged to have accepted some of the bribes to write a request for leniency on behalf of a drug defendant in Connecticut, selling official police badges and fixing traffic tickets.
Smith, who did not deliver a scheduled report on the Police Department to a Port Allen council committee Wednesday, declined to comment.
Lewis, 49, said his attorney, Thomas C. Dam ion, instructed him not to discuss the indictment.
"We certainly deny he (Lewis) has done anything wrong," Oamieo said. "He will have his day in court, and we'll let a jury decide."
Four other people were indicted in the FBI investigation earlier this year.
Former Port Allen Cily Councilman Johnny Johnson, 63, pleaded guilty in July to racketeering and bribery charges.
New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson, 40, White Castle Mayor Maurice "Big Moe" Brown, 45, and his brother, White Castle Police Chief Mario D. Brown, 40, have pleaded innocent to felony charges.
Wednesday in Port Allen, city officials expressed a mixture of outrage and sadness.
"This reflects badly on the city, no matter how it plays out," said City Councilman Hugh "Hootie" Riviere.
"I'm so disgusted, I don't know what to do," said City Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence. "I'm just hurt, right now.
"I taught Fred when he was in the fifth grade," Lawrence added. "Any kids that I've taught, they're very close to my heart."
Lawrence also said of Smith: "He's done good things for the city. No
"This is very much an embarrassment to the city," Loupe added. "I'm hoping some of this isn't true."
Loupe also said Smith helped the city by putting more officers and patrol cars on the streets in an effort to prevent break-ins.
"1 used to get beaucoup complaints," Loupe said. "I don't get one-tenth the amount of calls now."
While Lewis and Smith declined to discuss the indictment, they are quoted in it.
An undercover agent asked Lewis in November whether the mayor had told anyone how he twisted the presumed businessman's arm IBR tickets to an NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, the indictment states.
Lewis is alleged to have replied: "I didn't twist your arm. 1 damn near broke it off."
When Lewis spoke with the same undercover agent in January about confidential law enforcement information the presumed businessman wanted, the mayor is alleged to have replied: "1 ain't do nothing that 1 ain't getting paid to do."
When the same bogus businessman asked Smith in March how much it would cost to fix two traffic tickets, Smith is alleged to have written $800 on a piece of paper.
"That would take care of me right here," Smith is alleged to have said.
When the businessman asked whether that number was $860, Smith is alleged to have replied: "No ... eight, zero, zero."
In April, the same undercover agent, posing as the businessman, told Smith he had used a lieutenant's badge to get out of a traffic ticket.
"There you go," Smith is alleged to have responded.
The indictment obtained by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson covers the period of October 2008 through June of this year.
One of the law enforcement databases alleged to have been used improperly by Smith and Lewis is the FBI's National Crime Information Center in West Virginia.
The other is the National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System in Arizona. It is owned and governed by the 50 states.
"I know both Fred and Derek personally," West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley "Peewee" Berthelot said Wednesday. "They're good people. I guess they got caught up in something they didn't think through."
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