A former federal law clerk in New Orleans pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of computer solicitation of a minor, admitting he sought out sex with someone he thought would be a young boy but who turned out to be an FBI agent.
Thomas J. “Haller” Jackson, 33, will be sentenced next week to a five-year prison term under a deal with Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office.
Jackson, who had clerked for U.S. District Judges Susie Morgan and Ginger Berrigan, was arrested in January 2014 after he drove to a house in Mid-City near St. Patrick Cemetery, equipped with four condoms, lubricant, $216 in cash and a bottle of Premium Iron Horse, a leather cleaner described as an aphrodisiac, according to a police report.
Police said Jackson logged onto Grindr, a popular gay online-hookup network, and offered $500 to engage “with a boy under the age of 11 for the purposes of sexual activity.”
The Grindr user on the receiving end of that offer alerted the FBI, prompting a sting in which Jackson indicated his readiness to “Hook it up!!”
Following his arrest, Jackson became something of a pawn in a scrap between Cannizzaro’s office and Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo, who had not been assigned the case but who nonetheless phoned in an order setting a $5,000 bail for Jackson.
Cannizzaro quickly filed a bill of information charging Jackson with attempted aggravated rape, despite the lack of any real victim, along with the computer solicitation charge.
Criminal District Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson then set bail for Jackson at $30,000 on each charge. Jackson was later released on bond and required to wear an electronic monitor.
He pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of computer solicitation of a minor under the age of 17, which carries a minimum two-year sentence and a 10-year maximum.
Still at issue is whether Landrum-Johnson will credit Jackson for the time he’s spent on house arrest with the ankle monitor. That will be decided next Friday.
Jackson had been clerking for Morgan up until his arrest.
On his Facebook page Friday, Jackson acknowledged his guilt and said he’s in recovery from “a decline into substance abuse and alcoholism.” He thanked the court and Cannizzaro’s office for “allowing me the time to seek treatment.”
His attorney, Frank DeSalvo, declined to comment Friday.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.