Louisiana news briefs
Witness says he disguised $50K bribe to Nagin
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former investment banker serving a 14-year prison sentence for a New Jersey fraud scheme testified Monday that he helped arrange and disguise a $50,000 bribe to former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
Clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, Michael McGrath told jurors in Nagin’s corruption trial that the bribe in 2008 was funneled through his daughter’s trust account to a company Nagin founded with his sons. McGrath said the bribe was in return for Nagin’s support for projects that a company called Home Solutions hoped to manage, including the redevelopment of an old power plant into a residential and retail space, and a race car track. Neither project ever developed.
Nagin, a Democrat who was mayor from 2002 to 2010, including the tumultuous period during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was indicted on 21 counts after he left office. He is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in return for helping contractors secure city business. Charges include bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
BATON ROUGE — A Louisiana man who murdered his 6-year-old stepson two decades ago won’t be executed this week as planned, while a federal judge reviews the state’s newly changed lethal injection plans to determine if they are constitutional.
The state Department of Corrections said Monday that it agreed to a 90-day postponement for Christopher Sepulvado’s execution, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.
“The stay will allow additional time for review and responses to outstanding issues related to the execution,” corrections department spokeswoman Pam Laborde said in a statement.
Schriever bridge to close until Sunday
SCHRIEVER (AP) — Authorities in Terrebonne Parish say the St. Bridget Church Bridge that crosses Bayou Terrebonne will be closed beginning Wednesday while workers repair an adjacent water line.
The bridge will close at 6 a.m. and is expected to remain closed until Sunday.
The work had been postponed because of last week’s freezing weather.
Man seeks to delay bribery trial
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A Lafayette private investigator who allegedly orchestrated a bribery scheme to get favorable treatment for DWI defendants in the local court system is asking a federal judge to push back his scheduled March 10 trial.
Five others, including three former employees of the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, already have pleaded guilty in the probe.
They have agreed to cooperate in the case against Robert Williamson, the private investigator accused of working for a cash fee then using some of the money to pay off employees of the District Attorney’s Office to secure special plea deals for his clients.
Boyfriend accused in girlfriend’s overdose death
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Baton Rouge police have arrested a 30-year-old man in the fatal heroin overdose of a 31-year-old woman on Dec. 18.
Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. said Brandon Eirick, was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. Monday and booked with second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Leah Hutchinson.
Coppola says police responded to a call on Dec. 18 and found Eirick and Hutchinson unresponsive in a vehicle.
Both were transported to a hospital where Hutchinson later died.
NAACP sues for minority judgeship in Terrebonne
HOUMA (AP) — While all five seats on the Terrebonne District Court bench are up for election this year, an effort for a minority judge has been revived.
Terrebonne NAACP President Jerome Boykin said the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a federal suit Monday against the state to turn term-limited Judge Timothy Ellender’s position into a minority judgeship.
All five four-year judgeships are held by white men, and every seated judge except Ellender plans to run for re-election.
Last year, state Rep. Patricia Smith, chairwoman of Louisiana’s Black Caucus, asked the state Supreme Court Judicial Council to ask the Legislature to create the judgeship.
The council, a research board that meets in the spring and fall, delayed making such a request while it determines whether it has such authority.
Police: Woman struck man
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Baton Rouge police arrested a 52-year-old woman accused of striking a man in the head with an iron.
Debra Williams was booked Sunday on counts of second-degree battery.
Police say the victim had a large gash on his head that required several staples or stitches to close.
Williams told police she hit him because he was hitting her with his crutches.
Parts of the arrest affidavit show the relationship between Williams and the victim were blacked out.
adopts new rules
CLINTON (AP) — In an effort to keep meetings more transparent for the public and to keep all police jurors involved, the East Feliciana Police Jury adopted general guidelines Monday for the parish’s six committees.
The recommendations came from the governing body’s Executive Committee, chaired by jury President Louis Kent. The guidelines include notifying jurors of all committee meetings, recording all meetings and providing a synopsis of the committees’ recommendations to jurors at the following regular meeting.
The guidelines also name the parish manager as the single point of contact for jurors. Kent said an attorney general’s opinion says an individual juror does not have the authority to supervise or direct jury personnel in their duties.
Train derails near Avondale Shipyard
AVONDALE (AP) — A train derailment has closed La. 18 near the Avondale Shipyard.
The state Department of Transportation and Development says the derailment happened around 3 a.m. today.
Jefferson Parish Fire Department officials said the scene is not hazardous.
State police say several of the cars are blocking the highway.
but workers at the shipyard are being allowed access to the area.