A two-time convicted felon and politically connected Mandeville businessman described by a prosecutor as a “serial fraudster” and “flim-flam con artist” was sentenced Wednesday to more than 11 years in federal prison for billing a group of south Louisiana car dealerships more than $1.2 million for advertising purchases he never made.
Even though 53-year-old Raymond Reggie pleaded guilty in the fall to five counts of mail fraud, he testified Wednesday that he was stroke-impaired when he admitted his guilt Oct. 27, and he asked U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick to let him withdraw that guilty plea and instead go to trial. Reggie suffered a stroke Oct. 6.
Dick declined his request, finding the plea he made in front of her in the fall was done so knowingly and voluntarily.
Reggie, who was sentenced about a decade ago to a year in prison for bank frauds in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, vehemently proclaimed his innocence on the current charges.
“I never stole anything. I never broke the law. It was a nontraditional pay arrangement. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am 100 percent not guilty,” he told Dick, referring to the money he was accused of fraudulently obtaining from Slidell-based Supreme Automotive Group and Super Chevy Dealers of Baton Rouge between 2008 and 2012 while working as a media consultant for the groups of car dealerships.
Supreme’s members have dealerships in Gonzales, Plaquemine and other locations in the southeast part of the state.
In addition to the 135-month prison term Dick imposed, the judge ordered Reggie to pay a combined $1.2 million in restitution: $968,556 to Supreme Automotive Group and $249,100 to Super Chevy Dealers.
Dick also ordered Reggie to be taken immediately into federal custody.
“This may be a life sentence,” Reggie’s attorney, former federal prosecutor Matthew Coman, told the judge before she refused to allow Reggie to surrender in about a month.
Reggie told the judge he is not a bad person. Dick agreed, but said she imposed the maximum sentence under the federal sentencing guideline range because Reggie is in need of punishment. She noted he defrauded the car dealerships while on probation for his prior conviction.
“That tells me you are willing to offend regardless of the consequences,” the judge said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene Salomon called Reggie as a “serial fraudster” and a “flim-flam con artist.”
“He can’t stop serial offending. It needs to stop here,” the prosecutor said.
Reggie also faces state theft charges in St. Tammany Parish.
Reggie, son of the late Crowley City Judge Edmund Reggie and a brother-in-law of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, previously worked on the campaigns of former President Bill Clinton and other high-profile Democratic campaigns.
Reggie’s father headed John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Louisiana and served as Gov. Edwin Edwards’ executive counsel during Edwards’ second term in office. Edmund Reggie was convicted in the latter part of his life of misapplying funds of the now-defunct Acadia Savings & Loan of Crowley, a bank he founded in the late 1950s.
Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.