U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
(504) 680-3000
October 31, 2014

Rufus Johnson and Three Others Indicted for Operating Fraudulent Bail Bonds Scheme in Orleans Parish

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that RUFUS JOHNSON, age 65, JAMES JOHNSON, age 36, PERRY BECNEL, age 38, and JOSEPHINE SPELLMAN, age 54, all of New Orleans, were indicted today by a federal grand jury for charges of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The indictment also charges making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a federal grand jury, as well as conspiracy to use interstate transportation in aid of a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to commit unauthorized access to a protected computer. The defendants are charged as follows:

COUNT

CHARGE

DEFENDANT

RANGE OF PUNISHMENT

1

Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Fraud, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud-18 USC 1341, 1343, 1349

All Defendants

NMT 20 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years Sup. Rel.

2

Conspiracy to Commit Use of an Interstate Facility in Aid of  Racketeering Activity-18 USC 371

R. Johnson, Becnel

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

3

Conspiracy to Commit Unauthorized Access to a Protected Computer-18 USC 371

R. Johnson, Becnel

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

4

Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice-18 USC 1512(k)

All Defendants

NMT 20 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years Sup. Rel.

5

False Statements-18 USC 1001

R. Johnson

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

6

False Statements-18 USC 1001

R. Johnson

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

7

False Statements-18 USC 1001

R. Johnson

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

8

False Statements-18 USC 1001

J. Johnson

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

9

False Statements-18 USC 1001

J. Spellman

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

10

False Declarations before a Grand Jury-18 USC 1623

J. Johnson

NMT 5 Years, NMT 250,000 Fine, NMT 3 Years, Sup. Release

According to the indictment, RUFUS JOHNSON, JAMES JOHNSON, BECNEL, and SPELLMANconspired to profit by releasing Orleans Parish Prison inmates through various means, including by bribing public employees of the Clerk of Court for Criminal District Court and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office to release inmates on their own recognizance (“R.O.R.”) and to access and alter protected law enforcement databases; by approaching judges for R.O.R.s and bail reductions; and by acting as commercial bail bondsmen without a license through signing other bondsmen’s names and splitting premiums. The indictment also contains allegations that these defendants attempted to obstruct justice and to deny the Federal Bureau of Investigation relevant information. RUFUS JOHNSON, JAMES JOHNSON, andJOSEPHINE SPELLMAN are charged with making false statements to the FBI and the grand jury investigating this matter. The indictment further alleges that JAMES JOHNSON abused his parole power as an elected Member of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee, lied before a federal grand jury, and schemed to disguise conflicts of interest relating to his legal representation of defendants who had been bonded out of jail by his bonding business.

JAMES JOHNSON is an attorney and member of the Louisiana Bar.

“Today’s indictment shows our continued commitment to rooting out local corruption and fraud,” stated U.S. Attorney Polite., “and it also exposes some of the vulnerabilities in our local criminal justice system that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. The integrity of our local institutions depends upon the integrity of our public employees and elected officials.”

U.S. Attorney Polite reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilty of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, the New Orleans Police Department and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael B. Redmann and Mark A. Miller are in charge of the prosecution.

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