Leander Perez 300

Leander Perez

“Judge” Leander Perez was such a force that even Gov. Huey P. Long turned to Perez for help when he was facing impeachment. Perez ruled the region ostensibly as District Attorney of Plaquemines Parish from 1924 until 1960 – when his son succeeded him and Judge Perez became president of the Commission Council. Perez won loyalty from parish residents by using mineral royalties to build schools, roads and parks. That loyalty allowed Perez to control a strong voting bloc.

Perez also funneled some of that money into his own pocket by creating dummy corporations, mainly Delta Development, that acquired and traded leases oil leases. Delta land was leased to oil companies, which paid about $80 million in royalties to the Perez family before the illegal leases were discovered in 1983.

Perez’ most lasting legacy may be that of a racist and a segregationist. He threatened to jail civil rights in the 19th-century Fort St. Philip near the mouth of the Mississippi. He was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his opposition to integration. Later he supported other nationally known segregationists including George Wallace and Strom Thurmond.

Perez died in 1969.