Girlfriend of former Orleans Parish DA Eddie Jordan arrested for slapping him, website reports _lowres

New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan talks at a press conference where he announces his resignation at City Hall in New Orleans Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. Jordan leave his job amid a $3.7 million discrimination verdict against his office and a rising murder rate since Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Eddie Jordan, the former U.S. attorney and district attorney for New Orleans, is under investigation after he was accused of trying to slip illegal drugs to a jail inmate during a court appearance Thursday.

Officials said the longtime prosecutor, who is now a private attorney, tried to pass an envelope containing drugs to a client in Criminal District Court.

The envelope contained marijuana and prescription pills, according to a law enforcement source. Courtroom deputies quickly spotted the handoff, the Sheriff's Office said.

Jordan was in court to represent Nicholas McKnight, according to a court docket. McKnight, 22, has an open charge for possession of a firearm by a felon and was set to have a motions hearing.

Jordan, who denies wrongdoing, has not been jailed. It was not immediately clear whether authorities sought his arrest.

In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Jordan strenuously denied any involvement with drugs or contraband.

Jordan said he had left Criminal District Court for a hearing in Jefferson Parish and planned to make a statement later to the Sheriff's Office.

"I have engaged in no illegal activity, have no knowledge of any drugs in the courtroom," he said. "I’m carrying out my responsibilities as a defense attorney. I’m representing my clients. I’ve done nothing wrong."

Jordan also questioned why the Sheriff's Office chose to announce the investigation in a press release.

"I will talk to the sheriff and tell him exactly what happened, and I’m sure you’ll get a leak as to what that is," he said.

Jordan's arrest would be a stunning humiliation for the attorney, who rose from a middle-class upbringing in Pontchartrain Park to the highest echelons of local law enforcement.

He drew praise as an anti-corruption crusader from 1994 to 2001 in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where his most notable success was convicting former four-term governor Edwin Edwards of extorting kickbacks for casino licenses.

"The indictment represents a landmark in not only our initiative committed to the eradication of public corruption in Louisiana, but also serves as a landmark in this state's history," Jordan said when a grand jury charged Edwards.

Jordan parlayed his fame from that prosecution into an election victory to succeed Harry Connick Sr. as the Orleans Parish district attorney in 2003.

Jordan’s time as DA, however, was marred by controversies over the office’s low acceptance rate of felony prosecutions, his poor relationship with the New Orleans Police Department and a racial discrimination lawsuit over his firing of dozens of white employees when he took office.

At one point, Jordan announced that he was dropping charges against the suspect in the murder of five teenagers in Central City because of a missing witness, only to reverse course when police announced that they were able to find the witness hours later.

Then-Mayor Ray Nagin said the episode was one in a "disturbing pattern" where Jordan's office failed to coordinate with other agencies.

Jordan's lowest mark may have come in October 2007, when a suspect in an armed robbery and the deadly shooting of a police officer fled to Jordan's house in Algiers. The suspect happened to be a friend of Jordan's girlfriend. Jordan resigned under pressure later that month.

Since then he has kept a low profile, although he was back in the news in 2015 when the same girlfriend was arrested on allegations that she slapped him.

The investigation into Jordan is part of a continuing effort by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office to stem the flow of contraband into the jail.

In March, a onetime murder convict who was freed after decades in prison was arrested and accused of trying to slip drugs into the jail.

Investigators said Earl Truvia, who was working as a paralegal and investigator for a defense attorney, tried to slip the pharmaceutical painkillers tramadol, hydrocodone and gabapentin into the lockup under his jacket.

Truvia was booked on introducing contraband into a penal institution, a felony that carries a maximum five-year sentence, and other counts.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432