Posted: Aug 19, 2010 7:46 PM by Michael Shingleton
Updated: Aug 19, 2010 8:25 PM
Ten employees ranging from Baton Rouge police officers to the high ranks on Baton Rouge City Court received their sentences after all pleaded guilty in a federal investigation known as "Operation Illegal Motion."
Flitcher Bellm, a former senior prosecutor in Baton Rouge City Court, was handed the toughest sentence-- three years and a $2,000 fine. He pleaded guilty to accepting cash and gifts for fixing criminal and traffic cases.
During Bell's sentencing, Judge James Brady chastised Bell for "totally undermining a judicial system of which [he] took an oath." He went on to say Bell violated that oath and "there's no way this community and this system of justice can allow anyone to violate those bodies." Brady did commend Bell for "doing the right thing" by cooperating with authorities.
"We believe he should have gotten a little bit less due to the fact that he cooperated right from the very beginning the day that they came in to see him," said Steven Moore, Bell's attorney. "He started cooperating while others didn't cooperate. [Bell's] seeing what everybody else is getting knowing what their role in this process was and was a little upset at what he got compared to what they were getting."
Judge Brady ordered Bell to a designated prison facility by Sept. 20. Bell asked for an extension, but none has since been given.
Also sentenced today was Edward James, a former investigator for the Baton Rouge Public Defender's Office. James got 20 months for his role in the scheme. During the proceedings, Chief Prosecutor Coery Amundson said James was the one "mass marketing himself as the guy who can take care of your problems" in his attempt to lengthen James' sentence.
"This is dificult for me because I know a member of your family," said Judge Brady, regarding James' character.
Brady spoke on receiving many letters from prominent citizens of Baton Rouge.
"I've read many letters on your behalf, and they speak very highly of you, but you corrupted the system. I don't know why you started doing this but you were principle and a high-ranking principle," said Brady.
Mayor Kip Holden's sister Evelyn Holden was given credit for time served after being in West Baton Rouge Parish Prison since last year. She will also be on supervised released for the next three years.
"She committed a crime. You have to pay a price when you commit a crime. My sister does not get the benefit of the doubt because she's my sister," said Mayor Holden. "I wish I could guard all of my family and keep them away from crime, but I can only do what I'm able to do for myself and my family, but I can't watch them 24 hours [a day]."
The others also sentenced in Judge Brady's courtroom:
Ann Warr- probation
Samuel Wilson- probation
Former Baton Rouge police officer Leonard Jackson- waiting to hear
Former Baton Rouge Police Sergeant Darrell Johnson- 15 months in prison
Koveria Williams- 3 months probation, 6 months in a half-way house
Michael Lee- waiting to hear