Judge sets deadline for Bordelon retrial
ALEXANDRIA — The judge in the federal trial of Steve Bordelon ordered that the former Rapides Parish police juror must be retried by Jan. 12.
After declaring a mistrial on Nov. 3 because of a hung jury, U.S. District Judge Dee Drell initially gave U.S. prosecutors 120 days to retry the case, in which Bordelon is charged with bribery.
In a motion Wednesday to shorten the timetable, Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Campbell cited the 70-day post-mistrial limit contained in the federal Speedy Trial Act.
The jury in the Bordelon trial deliberated for 2½ days but could not reach a unanimous decision on if the four-term police juror accepted land in exchange for his influence and vote concerning a subdivision.
Bordelon was a member of the Police Jury from 1992 through 2007. He was indicted in April 2010.
Street gang members get 30-year sentences
NEW ORLEANS — Federal prosecutors said two members of a violent street gang were sentenced to 30 years in prison after they pleaded guilty to racketeering, weapons and drug charges that involved two cold-case murders.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Tony Simmons, 23, and Harold Jones, 36, were sentenced Wednesday in federal court. Letten said the two men belonged to a gang known as the “Josephine Dog Pound.”
The gang was rooted out by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Eight members of the gang pleaded guilty. Prosecutors said they conspired to distribute drugs and commit murder.
Boy finishes house arrest, arrested again
HARAHAN — Authorities said it didn’t take long for a 13-year-old Harahan boy to turn back to crime after his house arrest sentence was completed.
The boy, not identified because of his age, is accused of breaking into three vehicles and a house — while the resident was inside and sleeping.
The teen’s alleged burglary spree ended just before 4 a.m. Wednesday when a neighbor saw him entering a vehicle. Officers caught up with the teen and reportedly found him with stolen property.
Harahan Police Chief Mac Dickinson said the teen’s parents told investigators he had been convicted in Jefferson Parish for burglary and was sentenced to house arrest. Dickinson did not know the length of the sentence, but said his confinement ended Monday.
Landrieu pushes Plaquemines study
NEW ORLEANS — A U.S. Senate committee said the Interior Department should consider adding historic sites in Plaquemines Parish to the national park system.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the Lower Mississippi River Study Act on Thursday.
It is the third time Landrieu has introduced the bill calling for a study to decide whether the area has the nationally significant natural, cultural or recreational resources that would make it eligible for a national park.
The Lower Mississippi River Area includes the site of the first fort on the lower Mississippi, and has had 10 fortifications since then including Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson.
Landrieu said that unless Congress steps in, the forts could be lost forever.
Officials rescind Central La. burn ban
ALEXANDRIA — State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning and Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain have lifted the ban on outdoor burning that was issued on Aug. 24.
The ban affected the central Louisiana parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Catahoula, Evangeline, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon and Winn.
Man pleads guilty in bank robbery
NEW ORLEANS — A River Ridge man pleaded guilty Wednesday to robbing a Metairie bank in August.
Don Lee Alexander Jr. faces a maximum of 20 years in prison following his guilty plea in federal court.
Prosecutors said Alexander entered a Whitney Bank branch on Aug. 19, demanded money in a note he handed to a teller and left with more than $6,000.
FBI agents arrested the 36-year-old man less than a week later, after Alexander’s former co-workers identified him from a surveillance photograph.His sentencing is set for Feb. 8.
Attorney resignation delays murder case
MANSFIELD — A defense attorney’s unexpected resignation has prompted delays in the case of a Keatchie man charged with first-degree murder in last year’s death of a boy from Stonewall.
Elton Richey resigned Nov. 1 from the Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana, which provides legal services to indigent defendants facing the death penalty. Richey was co-counsel in the case of Brian Horn, charged in the death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom.
Richey’s resignation led to postponement Wednesday of arguments on motions to throw out evidence. Evidence mentioned in the motions includes items seized in a search of the taxi that Horn operated.
DeSoto investigators said Horn set up a meeting with Bloxom after portraying himself as a teenage girl through cellphone text messages.
Lake Charles man pleads in shooting
LAKE CHARLES — A Lake Charles man scheduled for trial this week for the 2010 fatal shooting of Aldwin Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter before state district court Judge Kent Savoie.
Jury selection was under way Wednesday for Wilford L. Edwards’ manslaughter trial, but was halted when he entered the guilty plea. Authorities said the shooting likely stemmed from an argument between the two men.
Savoie is expected to sentence Edwards on Jan. 21.
Manslaughter in Louisiana carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
Woman charged with child cruelty
LAKE CHARLES — A Lake Charles woman accused of cruelty to a juvenile was indicted Thursday by a Calcasieu Parish grand jury.
Lan Le, 26, was indicted on second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and one count of cruelty to a juvenile.
Sheriff Tony Mancuso said Le was arrested in September after taking her 2-year-old foster child to a local hospital with severe burns.
Le’s bond was initially set at $1.1 million, but state district court Judge Ronald Ware reduced it to $40,000.
Babysitter arrested in baby’s scalding
THIBODAUX — Lafourche Parish authorities said a Lockport woman has been arrested after an infant in her care suffered severe burns from being left unattended in a hot bath.
Deputies were called to the woman’s apartment Monday afternoon. The woman told deputies she was baby sitting the infant and had left the child unattended in the bath with the hot water running. It was unclear how long the baby was left unattended.
Hospital officials said the baby suffered third-degree burns on 15 to 20 percent of the body, including the feet, ankles and buttocks.
Sylvia Jacobs, 23, was booked with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
Tangipahoa man held in death of toddler
KENTWOOD — Authorities said a Tangipahoa Parish man has been booked with first-degree murder in the death of a 13-month-old toddler.
Deputies said O’Brian Donnett, 24, allegedly beat the baby to death during a violent fit of rage in October.
Detectives arrested Donnett this week after the coroner’s report revealed the baby died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Fishing guide pleads to exceeding limit
NEW ORLEANS — A Gretna fishing guide has pleaded guilty to violating a federal law on a bowfishing trip in which he exceeded the legal limit for catching redfish.
Blake A. Mitchell, owner of Louisiana Bowfishing Inc., faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine following his guilty plea Thursday.
Federal prosecutors said Mitchell, 26, arranged to take several men from Tennessee on a duck hunt and bowfishing trip in Plaquemines Parish in January 2010. During the trip, Mitchell allegedly took 20 redfish over two days and encouraged his customers to exceed the legal limit of five redfish per person.
Mitchell is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 16. In the meantime, prosecutors said he agreed to forfeit to the government an airboat he used for the trip.
Seed-oyster areas closed to harvesting
State wildlife regulators said seed-oyster harvest in public areas east of the Mississippi River will close Monday, effective at one-half hour past sunset.
Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, ordered closed the public oyster seed grounds north of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and the public seed grounds and reservations south of the MRGO and west of a line that generally runs from California Point northeast to Point Gardner.
Barham said those areas were determined to hold only small amounts of seed oyster stock and a significant portion of the available stock already has been harvested. He said sampling of seed-oyster loads on commercial vessels also found that excessive amounts of non-living cultch material is being removed, which threatens the reefs’ long-term sustainability.
23 drug suspects arrested in Lafourche
THIBODAUX — A pre-dawn roundup of drug suspects led to 23 arrests Tuesday in Lafourche Parish.
It happened early Tuesday as police fanned out across the northern part of the parish.
Operation Fall Harvest, the result of a five-month drug investigation, began at 4 a.m. Tuesday, when members of Thibodaux Police; Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office; Lockport Police; and probation and parole officers gathered for a briefing. They then fanned out across the northern part of the parish to make the arrests.
Authorities said the roundup targeted street-level dealers in Thibodaux and the surrounding areas.
Civil Service board upholds chief’s firing
LEESVILLE — The Leesville Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board voted to uphold the city’s termination of its former police chief.
Bobby Hickman filed for reinstatement in February. His hearing was stalled for months amid issues that included the lack of board quorums.
The board heard nearly six hours of testimony Wednesday from witnesses called by the city and Hickman through his attorney, Aaron Green.
The city argued that Hickman failed to participate in an internal probe into his alleged wrongdoing and that his termination was in order under state law.
Teacher’s hearing, trial rescheduled
MONROE — A preliminary hearing and trial have been delayed for former West Ridge Middle School physical education teacher Jamie Lynn Avant.
Avant’s attorney asked that the hearing be delayed and reset for Nov. 23. The trial, which was set to begin next week, was rescheduled for Dec. 12 in Ouachita Parish.
Avant, who has been out of jail on bond, is charged with false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon after reportedly picking up a 15-year-old student, driving her to a secluded dirt road and threatening her with a gun on April 26.
Deputies said the victim begged for her life.
Avant relented and drove the girl back to a West Monroe subdivision after the victim promised not to tell anyone about the incident, deputies said.
UNO panel to pare list for president
NEW ORLEANS — The committee tasked with finding a new president for the University of New Orleans hopes to pick semifinalists when it meets next week.
The committee meets Tuesday afternoon on the UNO campus. As of Thursday, the names of eight applicants — candidates who have applied through the University of Louisiana system — have been made public.
Others have applied through the consultant hired to help with the search, R.H. Perry and Associates.
Monroe ends year with surplus again
MONROE —Officials said the city will end the fiscal year with a budget surplus for the seventh year in a row.
Mayor Jamie Mayo and Monroe City Council heard from external auditors Wednesday that the surplus at the end of the fiscal 2010-2011 year was $987,172.
Mayo said in a news release that sound fiscal management has allowed the city to increase its overall fund balance to $13.8 million.
Mayo said the city is still working to improve its internal controls.
According to city officials, the report will be released at the next city council meeting on Nov. 22.
Terrebonne official to serve on FCC panel
HOUMA — A Terrebonne Parish Council member has been selected to serve on a federal advisory committee on telecommunications issues.
Arlanda Williams was named to the 15-member Intergovernmental Advisory Committee to the Federal Communications Commission.
The committee’s members are selected from local, state and tribal governments. They are to advise the FCC on the expansion of broadband internet service, particularly in areas that have little or no access to such service.
Williams won her third council term last month. She said she was nominated to the committee through her work with the National Association of Black County Officials and the National Association of Counties.