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New Orleans’ Metropolitan Crime Commission presented awards Tuesday to law enforcement officials who secured convictions in two high-profile killings as well as one prosecutor who specializes in building gangland cases.

One of the “Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards” given out at the Sheraton Hotel went to FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys for their work following the May 31, 2017, armored truck robbery attempt that left Loomis guard James McBride dead outside a Mid-City credit union. One defendant pleaded guilty, and two were convicted at a trial last year.

FBI agents Crystal Bender and William “Chuck” Williams were recognized along with Michael McMahon, David Haller, Cynthia Browne, Lauren Hepting and Laura Orth of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Another went to a coalition of Jefferson Parish law enforcement officials for their work on the 2016 killings of Dawn Scott and Raynell Kimbrough in their bedroom in Kenner. One defendant was convicted at trial.

Recognized were State Police Trooper Leland “Corky” Dwight, Kenner Police Department Detective Harold Pendergast, Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton, Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Denis Thornton and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office crime lab.

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Alex Calenda received the remaining award. Calenda has built elaborate cases resulting in the convictions of gang members, including those belonging to notorious, violent groups such as 3NG and Mid-City killers.

In a statement released by the D.A.’s Office, Calenda thanked those who helped him build the cases for which he was recognized, including New Orleans police and federal agents.

New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams, a defense attorney, represented one of the defendants in the McBride case by court appointment. Williams was in attendance Tuesday in his capacity as a city councilman.


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.