An undercover FBI operative testified Monday that former New Roads Mayor T.A. “Tommy” Nelson Jr. repeatedly demanded bribes when Nelson thought the operative was a corrupt businessman seeking a municipal contract.
In a related development, Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson banned Nelson’s mother from the Baton Rouge courtroom for the remainder of the trial.
She later said she will file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice for what she said is a violation of her civil rights.
Tyson told Rosetta Nelson she was banned because she confronted the FBI operative, William Myles, during a brief court recess.
Outside the courthouse, Rosetta Nelson denied threatening Myles in any way.
“I didn’t tell William Myles anything,” the former mayor’s mother said.
She said Myles held the courtroom door open for her as she and other spectators were leaving during a break in testimony.
Rosetta Nelson added that she does not see well at long distances and wanted to get a close look at the man testifying against her son.
“I just looked at his (Myles’) face,” Rosetta Nelson said. “I did look directly at his face, and then I walked out.”
Her banishment took place outside the presence of the jury.
Tyson did not elaborate on what took place between Myles and Rosetta Nelson.
The judge said an FBI agent confirmed a confrontation had occurred.
Rosetta Nelson later said she believes Myles has lied about her son and about her.
“I was innocent,” Rosetta Nelson said. “I should be in that courtroom with my son.”
She said she will remain out of the courtroom and off the courthouse floor on which her son’s trial is continuing.
“I’m going to be here everyday,” Rosetta Nelson said. “I’m going to be on the bottom floor, and I’m going to be praying.”
She said she would pray for her son, Myles, and the FBI agent who witnessed her staring into Myles’ face.
Myles testified Monday, as he did last week, that Tommy Nelson bragged of his ability to introduce Myles and another man to other municipal and state officials across Louisiana
Myles said Nelson told him the other officials would be interested in the Cifer 5000 garbage can-cleaning business.
This was after Nelson had begun to accept cash and other gifts totaling more than $22,000 for his pledge to obtain a municipal contract for the firm in New Roads, Myles testified.
But Nelson also wanted 10 percent of all Cifer 5000 profits resulting from those introductions, Myles said in response to questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson.
The prosecutor and Myles went through several audio and video recordings made during the investigation that ran from 2007 into May 2010.
“I gotta look at long term,” Nelson said in one conversation that was recorded by Myles and the FBI. “If something happens, I want a piece of what happens.”
Cifer 5000 was a fictitious company used by the FBI in a sting operation that resulted in indictments last year against Nelson and six other municipal officials in Port Allen, St. Gabriel and White Castle.
In one conversation recorded in May 2010, Nelson said he does not switch city vendors once a company begins taking care of him.
Myles then asked him what would happen if another company came into New Roads and offered to do the same job at a substantially reduced price.
“Nope. Can’t do it,” Nelson replied. “I don’t care what they got.”
Amundson held up a statement of facts that Nelson signed with prosecutors before he decided to plead innocent to charges of racketeering, wire fraud, using telephones in aid of racketeering and lying to FBI agents.
When does that statement say Nelson began accepting things of value from Cifer 5000 officials, Amundson asked.
“I believe it was Oct. 6, 2008,” Myles said.
Last week, FBI Special Agent Tonja Sablatura testified Nelson accepted his last cash payment of $5,000 during a meeting with Myles in the parking lot of a Starbucks Coffee shop in Gonzales.
Prosecutors concluded their questioning of Myles on Monday.
Defense attorneys Michael A. Fiser, of Baton Rouge, and Page A. Pate, of Atlanta, begin their questioning of the undercover FBI operative Tuesday.