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Attorney: Third indictment expected

Author(s): WILLIAM PACK Date: November 11, 1990 Section: News

The federal investigation of Edwin Edwards’ financial activities is moving toward a third indictment – this time one that may not include the former four-term governor, a Baton Rouge attorney said Wednesday. Attorney Tommy Damico confirmed that his client, Texas businessman Guy Thompson, and two men associated with Edwards are targets in the investigation of a 1995 scheme to win a municipal waste disposal contract for an Austin, Texas, firm.

Damico said other transactions involving Edwards and his associates continue to draw scrutiny from the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Orleans, even though the grand jury that returned the first two indictments against Edwards and nine co-defendants has disbanded.

Edwards said he had heard another indictment was in the works against other people.

“All that I know is that I’m not one of them,” Edwards said.

He declined to discuss details of the lingering investigation, hut said: “If I had done anything wrong or had any semblance of doing anything wrong, they would indict me. They’re not going to give me a free ride.”Edwards, his son Stephen and five other men have been indicted for allegedly corrupting the state’s riverboat casino licensing process. Among the defendants are state Sen. Greg Tarver and Louisiana Gaming Control Board member Ecotry Fuller.

Four others pleaded guilty in the case before Edwards and the others were indicted. The four have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

In September, a second indictment was returned by the same grand jury against Edwards, Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown and four other men for conspiracy and fraud associated with a settlement they allegedly helped arrange for the president of a failed insurance company.

Two of the six defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and agreed to testify for the government. The others have pleaded innocent.

U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan Jr. in New Orleans, whose office is prosecuting the cases, did not return phone calls Wednesday.

His office asked the U.S. Clerk of Court in Baton Rouge to start the selection of a special grand jury which could be used to consider an indictment against Thompson and others. U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola approved the request Tuesday.

On Wednesday, clerk’s office officials used a computer to select 50 names from a panel of about 1,300 people who have qualified to serve as trial jurors or grand jurors in the district.

“I have been Jed to believe the indictment will be forthcoming before the end of the month,” Damico said.

Thompson appeared before a previous grand jury more than a year ago and prosecutors already had all the information on the waste disposal contract, which involves Evergreen Global Resources, Damico said.

Officials said evidence presented to one grand jury can be summarized for a succeeding grand jury to speed up the review.

Damico said Thompson is a former Evergreen official who now works in the Dallas area. Damico would not discuss details of the allegations against his client.

The government outlined allegations against Evergreen in a written response to a defense motion challenging government wiretaps used in the riverboat corruption case.

Prosecutors said two brothers from Texas told them that Thompson, on behalf of Evergreen, paid former Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz $500,000 in the summer 1995. A portion of it was to be passed on to Edwards, who was serving his final term as governor, the government said.

Hofheinz kept $400,000 of the money and passed on $100,000 to Edwards’ associate Cecil Brown, prosecutors said.

Cecil Brown demanded more money up front and expected fees once Evergreen had secured a waste disposal contract with New Orleans, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said authorities secretly recorded numerous conversations between Thompson and Cecil Brown about the Evergreen extortion scheme in 1996.

Edwards, who agreed to contact New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial about the contract proposal, would be compensated for his role after he left the governor’s office, the government contended.

New Orleans rejected the Evergreen proposal, however.

Defense attorneys contended that the two Texas brothers are acknowledged con men.

Nothing in the recorded conversations support claims that they bribed Edwards and Cecil Brown, the defense argued.

Brown, a Eunice auctioneer who was indicted with Edwards in the riverboat corruption case, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hofheinz and his attorney also were unavailable for comment. Copyright 1999 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.