Federal prosecutors rested their racketeering and fraud case Monday against former New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson in Baton Rouge federal court.
Outside the presence of the jury, Nelson attorney Page A. Pate, of Atlanta, asked Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson to dismiss the case on grounds that the government failed to prove Nelson committed any crimes.
“A reasonable jury could find that the defendant is guilty on all counts of the indictment,” countered Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson.
Tyson agreed with prosecutors.
“The court finds the evidence in this case is sufficient to sustain a conviction,” Tyson ruled.
In testimony Monday, FBI Special Agent Maurice Hattier Jr. told Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Patricia Jones that Nelson and his wife earned a combined total of more than $100,000 in both 2009 and 2010.
Previous testimony from other FBI agents showed that Nelson accepted more than $20,000 in alleged bribes during that same two-year period.
Pate and co-counsel Michael A. Fiser, of Baton Rouge, said they will call a Tennessee witness Tuesday morning.
Pate and Fiser have subpoenaed former FBI Special Agent Darin Lee McAllister, who was convicted on felony charges in an unrelated case in Nashville in December.
McAllister was an undercover FBI agent in the Nelson case. He was under federal investigation in Tennessee at the same time he was paying alleged cash bribes to Nelson in Louisiana.
Pate and Fiser said prior to trial that they may ask Tyson to dismiss all charges against Nelson on grounds that he was entrapped by undercover agents.
Nelson is accused of racketeering, wire fraud, use of telephones in aid of racketeering and lying to FBI agents.
He is alleged to have accepted more than $22,000 in bribes from corrupt officials of a garbage can-cleaning service, Cifer 5000, which was seeking a municipal contract with New Roads.
The corrupt officials turned out to be undercover FBI agents, and Cifer 5000 was a fictitious firm used in an FBI sting known as Operation Blighted Officials.
Six other municipal officials in Port Allen, St. Gabriel and White Castle have been indicted as a result of that operation.