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Former Port Allen mayor takes stand in police chief's trial

4 years ago October 25, 2011 Oct 25, 2011 Tuesday, October 25 2011 Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:15:53 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Stephanie Ryan

BATON ROUGE-- Port Allen Police Chief Fred Smith was "ready to go" on bribes, according to former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis, who took the stand Tuesday afternoon against his former friend.

Lewis described the trip he and Smith took to New Orleans on the dime of undercover FBI operatives posing as businessmen.  That trip included a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, dinners at Ruth's Chris and Drago's, and $300 cash for both men.  On the way home from the trip, Lewis told the jury Smith said, "I could get accustomed to that!"

Lewis described Smith as hesitant about dealing with undercover FBI operative William Myles.

"He didn't trust Mr. Myles... the man talked a lot about money and things of that nature.  He didn't want anyone to know Mr. Myles had given him money, and he especially didn't want to talk about it on the phone," Lewis said.

Defense attorney J. David Bourland suggested to the jury Smith could have been hesitant because he may have been running his own sting against Myles.

A hidden camera showed Myles asking Smith what he would do if their relationship was ever investigated.

"I would say this is somebody that I would like to be a part of my staff," Smith told Myles.  That was not a sufficient answer for Myles, who pressed Smith for a better answer on camera hidden in Myles' car.

"There's nothing wrong with what I'm doing, making you an honorary police officer in my department.  It's not for any monetary gain, nothing like that," Smith told Myles.

That was just minutes after Smith counted $700 given to him, prosecutors said, in exchange for giving Myles official police badges and commissions.

The defense maintains the money was simply a gift to a friend, as were the badges and police commissions, which Bourland called "collector's items."

Still, Myles told jurors Smith is a professional crook, one who was caught on hidden camera telling Myles, "Before ya'll take care of me, I wanna get  ya'll taken care of."

In exchange for his testimony, Lewis's sentence could be reduced from a maximum of 20 years in prison to a suggested sentence of five years or less.

Lewis pleaded guilty in June to a Rico violation.  All other racketeering and fraud charges will likely be dismissed.

Smith's trial continues Wednesday.

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