Former White Castle Mayor Maurice Brown, who was charged with federal racketeering and fraud charges in March, learned last Wednesday that he may be facing between 19 and 24 years in prison. Those charges came after a one year long FBI sting known as Operation Blighted Officials.
Brown was convicted on 11 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, wire fraud and using a telephone in aid of racketeering. According to prosecutors, Brown accepted cash, tickets to professional sporting events and other kickbacks from officials from a garbage-can-cleaning service named Cifer 5000.
As it turned out, Cifer 5000 was a sting operation setup by the FBI. The sting company had to goal of bribing government officials in return for grants for municipal contracts. In addition to Brown, several other mayors signed letters in which they sought to obtain $3 million in federal grants for Cifer 5000 and $2 million in infusions of investor cash. Among them were former St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace, Port Allen Police Chief Fred Smith, former New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson, as well as former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis and former Port Allen City Councilman Johnny L. Johnson Sr.
A secret pre-sentence report issued by federal probation officers was the subject of last Wednesday’s hearing. The report is secret because all such reports for convicted felons remain sealed unless and until the defendant releases it. Brown’s defense attorney and a prosecutor disputed certain recommendations and conclusions contained in the report.
Brown’s attorney argued that his client is not responsible for the $5.5 million in intended government losses and intended racketeering gains detailed in the report. That point was disputed by prosecutors.
Brown’s sentencing was pushed back indefinitely, pending U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson’s decision.
Source: The Advocate, “Ex-mayor faces 19 to 24 years,” Bill Lodge, August 11, 2011.