Baton Rouge Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Former United States Attorney Jim Letten
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 04, 2013|
BATON ROUGE, LA—Acting United States Attorney Walt Green announced that the defendant, Gerald Estrade, 56, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty today, on the morning of trial, before the Honorable James J. Brady for threatening to murder a former federal law enforcement officer in violation of federal law. An indictment was returned on January 10, 2013, formally charging Estrade with this offense.
Estrade was charged with threatening to kill the former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, James “Jim” Letten, and his family, with the intent to retaliate against him on account of his official duties, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 155(a)(1).
On January 7, 2013, Estrade, while a patient in the Baton Rouge General Behavioral Health Unit, advised Baton Rouge General’s chief of security and former BRPD Chief Jeff LeDuff that if he was released, he would take all his remaining money from his bank account, travel to New Orleans, buy a gun, go to Mr. Letten’s house, hide behind a big oak tree in Mr. Letten’s front yard, and kill Mr. Letten and his dog, Rico, in front of Mr. Letten’s daughter. Estrade told Chief LeDuff that he wanted to kill Mr. Letten in retaliation for his failure to help him when he reached out to him from prison in 2005.
Chief LeDuff immediately advised former United States Attorney Letten and the FBI of the threat because he believed that Mr. Letten’s life was in serious danger.
Later that same day, Estrade was interviewed by two FBI agents. Estrade repeatedly stated that his intent was to travel to New Orleans to kill former United States Attorney Letten and his family. Estrade also advised that he had gone to Mr. Letten’s residence in 2001 and spoke to Mr. Letten briefly in his yard. Estrade further advised that he had sent a letter threatening Mr. Letten to the FBI in 2005 or 2006, while he was incarcerated in Allan Correctional Center. Estrade stated after he sent this letter, FBI agents came to the prison to interview him and thereafter, he experienced a lot of problems. Estrade advised that he intended to kill Mr. Letten in retaliation for the problems that Mr. Letten caused him as a result of the 2005 letter.
At sentencing, Estrade faces a maximum penalty of a term of imprisonment of 10 years, a $250,000 fine, or both, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.
Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green stated, “All threats against public officials will be thoroughly investigated and vigorously prosecuted by this office to the full extent of the law. Our public officials should not have to live in fear for doing their jobs.”
“We thank the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Louisiana for their outstanding efforts in prosecuting this case,” stated Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Threats against public servants in an effort to impede the administration of justice cannot and will not be tolerated.”
FBI SAC Michael J. Anderson stated, “Threats of such violence are never tolerated, but those threats that could interfere with vital law enforcement functions must be swiftly addressed to prevent any chilling effects on those charged with carrying out their public safety duties.”
This investigation is being handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Kleinpeter, who serves as a Deputy Criminal Chief, and Assistant United States Attorney J. Christopher Dippel, Jr.