U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Louisiana
(225) 389-0443
November 18, 2014

Former Mayor and President of the National Conference of Black Mayors Re-Sentenced to 20 Years

BATON ROUGE, LA—United States Attorney Walt Green announced today that U.S. District Judge Maurice A. Hicks has re-sentenced GEORGE L. GRACE, SR., age 70, of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, to twenty (20) years’ imprisonment, a $50,000 fine, forfeiture of $22,000, and a year of supervised release following imprisonment.

Today’s sentencing is the result of a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which required the original 22 year prison sentence to be reconsidered. The sentence is based on GRACE’s corrupt activities while serving as the Mayor of St. Gabriel and the President of the National Conference of Black Mayors. It is believed to be the longest public corruption prison sentence in the history of Louisiana.

GRACE was convicted by a jury following a six week trial of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), obstruction of justice, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery involving a federally-funded entity, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. At sentencing, the court determined that GRACE was responsible for over four different bribery schemes involving over nine (9) million dollars, including schemes to extort businessmen seeking to do business in the city and help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. Attorney Green stated: “This historic sentence should send a loud and clear message that those engaged in public corruption will face severe punishment, and hopefully, any public official who might consider such a path will take heed.”

Status of Other Operation Blighted Officials Defendants

Thomas A. Nelson, Jr.: 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 11 years in prison. Following appeal, Nelson’s sentence was reduced to 10 years in prison.

Maurice Brown: 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 10 years in prison.

Frederick W. Smith: 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.

Derek Lewis: The former Mayor of Port Allen, Louisiana, pled guilty to violating RICO and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Lewis to 40 months’ imprisonment.

Johnny Johnson: 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 of probation, with a condition of having to spend 6 months in a half-way house.

Richard Chambers: The former deputy commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance pled guilty to using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Chief Judge Jackson sentenced Chambers to 30 months’ imprisonment.

This investigation was 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 was prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson, who serves as Chief of the Criminal Division, Assistant United States Attorney M. Patricia Jones, who serves as Senior Litigation Counsel, and Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Jefferson.

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