An associate of disgraced former Orleans Parish School Board member Ira Thomas was charged in federal court Thursday with serving as Thomas’ bagman, allegedly collecting a $5,000 bribe intended for Thomas from a vendor seeking a contract.
Lester Mornay, who ran Thomas’ failed 2014 campaign for sheriff, faces a single charge of conspiracy to commit bribery. He is charged in a bill of information rather than a grand jury indictment, almost always a sign that a defendant has signed a plea deal with prosecutors.
Mornay, who previously had been identified in court documents as “Private Citizen B,” did not immediately respond to a phone call and an email seeking comment.
Thomas last year pleaded guilty to taking the bribe, which came from an informant posing as a businessman seeking a janitorial contract with the school system.
A school system employee, Armer Bright, also pleaded guilty to a role in facilitating the scheme. Thomas and Bright plotted ways to rig the bid process so the businessman would get the contract.
According to the bill of information filed Thursday, Mornay was the conduit for the bribe, accepting $5,000 in cash from the phony vendor, depositing it in his personal account and then withdrawing some of the money and giving it to Thomas. The transfer of the money was captured on video by federal authorities.
The document does not specify how Thomas and Mornay split the money.
Earlier court documents have said the bribe was disguised as a campaign contribution. Thomas was then running for sheriff, a contest in which he eventually finished third.
The cooperating witness who posed as a vendor seeking a contract has never been identified in court documents.
Both Thomas and Bright were sentenced to one year and one day in prison after they pleaded guilty in the case. Thomas is scheduled to be released in October, while Bright is set to be released in November.
Mornay’s case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman. The date of his first court appearance was not available on the court’s online docket Thursday.