Skip to comments.New Orleans Black Leaders Accuse Letten of Racism in Indictments (trouble in RATland)
Posted on 05/30/2009 4:29:20 PM PDT by Libloather
New Orleans Black Leaders Accuse Letten of Racism in Indictments
by Christopher Tidmore
With the indictment of former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt's on racketeering and money laundering charges, murmurs of discontent with U.S. Attorney Jim Letten have begun to emerge from several quarters in the local black community. The accusation that the regions senior prosecutor has disproportionately pursued corruption allegations in the African-American community continues to be levied.
When Senator Mary Landrieu recommended the reappointment of Letten, a career prosecutor but also a GOP appointee of President George W. Bush, Danatus King, president of the New Orleans Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told Bayoubuzz and www.louisianaweekly.com that not enough consultation had been done with Black organizations over whether Letten served the needs of an area with such a large African-American population. I think because of the makeup of the judicial district that Mr. Letten serves that would have been desirable, but it didnt happen.
(The Eastern District of Louisiana is comprised of 13 parishes in South Louisiana: Orleans, Jefferson, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Washington, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Lafourche, St. James, St. John, Assumption, Terrebonne and St. Charles.)
I dont know who Sen. Landrieu reached out to as far as getting comments opinions and suggestions, King continued, but I know the NAACP was not one of those organizations that was reached out to. It would have been wise for the senator to have done that outreach. I dont know what other community groups she reached out to, but those groups that are here doing civil rights work that I am aware of have not been consulted.
King is a long-time political ally of Congressman William Jefferson, by his own admission, and has joined others with critical attitudes on what several Black leaders have perceived as a vendetta against the Jefferson family and its political retainers.
Renee Gill Pratt is a defacto member of the Jefferson political clan through her decade-long romantic companion, Mose Jefferson, the Congressmans brother. With the latest group of indictments, she joins her paramour and his sisters, New Orleans 4th District Assessor Betty Jefferson and Brenda Jefferson Foster before the court.
A grand jury accused Ms. Gill Pratt of worked with the Jeffersons to run a "criminal enterprise" that looted publicly funded nonprofits purportedly created to help some of the city's poorest residents. Instead of helping those residents, the groups allegedly served as a vehicle to enrich Ms. Gill Pratt and the Jefferson family members.
Lawyers in Lettens U.S. Attorneys office accuse Ms. Gill Pratt of employing her former elected posts on the City Council and as a state representative to funnel money and vehicles to the Jefferson-controlled nonprofit organizations.
Much of the aid never got to the intended recipients, according to the indictment. Instead, Ms. Jefferson, her sister Brenda Jefferson Foster and others who ran the non-profits allegedly wrote checks to themselves, companies controlled by the Jefferson family and several unnamed family members. Ms. Jefferson Foster has confessed to the crimes.
The Government maintains Gill Pratt abused her City Council post to have the city rent office space from Mose Jefferson. In return, she got $5,000 in kickbacks and money for her Krewe of Muses dues. As a state representative, Ms. Gill Pratt reportedly appropriated $300,000 in state money to buy software Mose Jefferson was selling, and for that she allegedly received $3,500.
Ironically, the latest set of allegations have nothing to do with the upcoming trial of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson. He faces a separate racketeering trial next month over allegations of bribery in Nigeria.
Which friends of Jim Letten note is being handled about of Northern Virginia, not by his office. The corruption of the Jefferson family ought to be blamed for the number of trials, not Jim. Hes just doing his job, one staffer noted, but asked not to comment on the record due to Justice Department regulations.
Nor do the prosecutions of former School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Simms or former City Council president Oliver Thomas went to prison on bribery charges carry any water with Lettens defenders. Both were clear cases of corruption, they argue, no different than the U.S. Attorneys prosecutions of white judges in Jefferson Parish during Operation Wrinkled Robe.
The case uncovered a far-reaching bribery ring run by former Gretna bail bondsman Louis Marcotte III and led to the arrest and imprisonment of two judges, Ronald Bodenheimer and Alan Green, and nabbed a dozen other defendants, including several Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office deputies, mostly Caucasians.
Senator Mary Landrieu was even more expressive about defending the U.S. Attorney, Because the record is very balanced and the claim about [Letten] just targeting the African-American community I did not think held weight with the evidence that I reviewed, I was pressed to say that if the facts showed otherwise that having somebody to stay to bring continuity, somebody that was well-regarded inside the law enforcement community across the board would be the thing that I should do.
I know that there are some African-American leaders that are not happy, but I think the Black community generally wants the same thing that the white community wants, Landrieu added. They want the crime rate to go down, they want public corruption to be eliminated and they want people that they feel like they can trust to get the job done.
Landrieu said that while Letten has had some high-profile prosecutions of African-American elected officials, he has also prosecuted a number of white elected officials as well, including the aforementioned Bodenheimer and St. Bernard Parish District Judge Wayne G. Cresap.
Moreover, while his boss Eddie Jordan received the praise, it was Jim Letten who served as lead prosecutor on the now infamous Edwin Edwards trial, putting the former Governor in jail for the better part of a decade.
Perhaps, though, the best defense against racial motivation in prosecution that Letten has boils down to his prosecution of former KKK Grand Wizard and State Rep. David Duke.
It was a case that strangely involved the author of this article. Duke had appeared on my radio show on WTIX AM. My partner Jeff Crouere and I asked the former Klan leader several questions about the sale of mailing list to Gov. Mike Foster. Almost as an afterthought, I posed the question, How did you pay taxes on that money you received from Foster?
It was the first time that either Crouere or I had seen Duke speechless.
I dont think we paid taxes on it, he said looking back at the aide he had with him. But well fix that, Duke quickly added.
Crouere and Tidmores column hit the internet the next day highlighting Dukes confession, yet tax experts that we consulted said that as long as Duke filed an amended return quickly, no wrongdoing could be proven. The on-air conversation fell within the three year window of opportunity for amended returns.
Jim Letten undoubtedly knew this when he called Crouere and asked for a copy of the tape of that specific program. However, Letten, who was then merely a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorneys office under Jordan, vigorously began to argue to his superiors that the new information meant that Duke must have concealed other payments from taxation.
The hunch paid off. The former Grand Wizard had literally been receiving bag fulls of checks from around the nation and the world for years, and reported only a fraction of the sums to the IRS. Ultimately, Letten used Dukes confession on our radio program to help justify the search warrants that revealed the Klan leaders cache of monies at his St. Tammany home.
Journalists are not supposed to provide opinions, but as someone on the preferay of the story, it was easy to note that Letten could have simply dropped the investigation. Instead he got creative, seeking out a means of proving corrupt acts by the greatest ideological enemy the African-American community had known for decades.
Christopher Tidmore hosts The Political Roundtable on KKAY 1590 AM Donaldsonville/Baton Rouge from 4-5 PM weekdays and online at www..kkay1590.com..
Renee Gill Pratt
I think Jim Letten has good support from a broad range of Democrats as well as Republicans
SOURCE: RedState 3 weeks ago
The New Orleans region is a safer place thanks to the grit and determination of our U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, and he deserves reappointment ... His crime-fighting record and leadership against corruption should be admired and emulated.
SOURCE: 2TheAdvocate.com 1 month ago
Jim Letten has done a very fine job in his position and has my support ... I have been open to receiving recommendations broadly from the community about the U.S. Attorney, marshals, judges and other vacancies in all three districts.
SOURCE: WDSU New Orleans 1 month ago
The Chocolate Town news.
And the NAACP wants to protect these people?
“couldn’t swing a cat at arm’s length without hitting an Indictable ‘rat, black, white, or in between.”
There are a few places that might be easier, DC, Chicago, NYC and Boston, but not by much...at most a cat’s whisker.
DIdn’t Glenn and O Really mention Letten name along with Jindel’s in their request to investigate ACORN?
The Big Easy is Movin on Up.....maybe there is hope for Chicago.
Advancement is advancement, legal or not.
What needs are those? To look the other way on crime and official misconduct?
Blacks are so poorly served by their leadership. Why do they tolerate it?
You win. I suck at trivial pursuit.
So do I, that’s why I asked.....Maybe a winner will stop by and tell us both the answer.
Surprisingly, my world-wide-web photo search for the corrupt Renee Gill Pratt resulted in a TON of Chicago Tribune hits. Coincidence? Maybe not...
On my old computer I had many article from NOLA area papers....Lots of trivia
Over 80% of the houses in the worst flooded area were rental properties....
Many were owned by large corporation with politician on the BOD...
Another piece of trivia that the original head of HUD was involved. You will recognize the name.....
Residence didn't pay rent the government did.
One house purchased for less than 3,000 had already collected over $300,000 from the federal government before Katrina even hit.
Lots of trivial dots to connect to create the huge picture of corruption.
That comment just got you connected here:
Chicago Crime Kind of TOWN.......It must be Floating on down the Mississippi
Perhaps the the fact that most prosecutions are in that community are somehow related to the fact that most crime is also there.
As a native of New Orleans I can truthfully say that your post sums up the situation perfectly. In my opinion the only thing Letten is prejudiced against is wrongdoing, no matter the color of the person who perpetrates it. The claims to the contrary have gotten very old and tiresome.
Chicago isn't on the Mighty Mississippi, so they must be pumping it back up the Chicago River and down the canal to Old Man River. Wouldn't put it past them, to keep from fouling their Lake Michigan waterfront and stinking the place up.
Interesting, though, that Mary Landrieu is taking on the race pimps and going over their heads to the black electorate directly. Very interesting.
Keep in mind, though, that Landrieu always has the benefit of murmurs from The Man Behind the Curtain, through her political mentor and advisor James "Snakehead" Carville.
Makes you wonder if some side-ring slapdown contest is underway between Castle Clinton on the one hand and The Chicago Boys on the other.
I agree with you that this article, as ramifying and as interesting as it is, is "only scratching the surface".
The implication of the remark about swinging cats is that U.S. Attorney Letten is going to have to conserve his energy and keep from wearing himself out tripping over chump-change City Council corruption cases and Levee Board bagmen. Sounds like he is starting to get connected to the Main Event.
[Hint to Letten: Get yourself a ballistic vest, and get a professional driver who knows how to check your car every day. Seriously now, boy!]
Mary Landrieu is taking on the race pimps? You mean she’s in compitition with them?
Doesn’t the infamous SPIRIT OF NEW OLEANS run from Chicaago to NOLA? COrruption may be be saving money and taken the train!
What is Mitch Landreau doing now?
I was referring to Sen. Mary Landrieu.