A federal judge has dismissed a racketeering lawsuit that alleged St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Perry Nicosia, before he became DA, was involved in a conspiracy to shake down out-of-state contractors handling debris removal work nearly a decade ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The allegations emerged late last year when Nicosia, after winning an election for the open district attorney’s post, was added as a defendant to the 2012 lawsuit.
The amended complaint alleged that two contractors — Stephen Farmer, of Mississippi, and Curt Causey, of South Carolina — were forced to pay kickbacks to Nicosia and his former law partners, Lance Licciardi and Randy Nunez, in exchange for their help in landing contracts for cleanup work in St. Bernard.
The contractors alleged they were extorted out of at least $780,000.
In dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk did not address the merits of the allegations against Nicosia and his former law partners.
Rather, Africk agreed with the contention of Nicosia’s attorney, Randy Smith, that the allegations were “clearly time barred” and well beyond the four-year federal statute of limitations and the state’s five-year prescription period.
Africk’s 13-page order, issued Friday, said the lawsuit was filed a year after the contractors’ state claims expired.
Dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice means that it cannot be refiled.
The judge also denied a request by Nicosia to issue sanctions against the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Hiram Eastland, of Mississippi.
“As my former law partners and I have claimed all along, this was a baseless lawsuit without merit and only filed against us for political purposes,” Nicosia said in a brief statement provided by Smith.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.