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Ex-N.O. official sentenced to almost 22 years

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Posted: Jun 25, 2010 5:37 AM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: federal, judge, former, member, New Orleans' Sewerage and Water Board, sentenced, prison

A federal judge has sentenced a former member of the governing body of New Orleans' Sewerage and Water Board to nearly 22 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk on Thursday sentenced Benjamin Edwards Sr. to 21 years and 10 months for wire fraud and tax evasion and immediately ordered him taken into custody.

Edwards also was ordered to repay $3.6 million to victims of the scheme.

Edwards pleaded guilty to a charge he solicited kickbacks from companies with board contracts.

He allegedly asked companies to make "scholarship donations" to a Baptist church where he was a
minister, then withdrew millions of dollars from the church bank account to pay for vehicles and other personal expenses.

Edwards' brother, Bruce L. Edwards Sr. pleaded guilty to the same charges and faces sentencing on Tuesday.

Oliver C. Coleman pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony in connection with the case.

Sentencing is set for July 8.

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