Posted: Sep 29, 2010 3:28 PM by Russell Jones, Michael Shingleton, Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Sep 30, 2010 4:56 PM
Federal authorities have indicted the mayor of St. Gabriel in a wide-ranging racketeering and corruption investigation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge today unsealed an indictment against George Grace for 11 counts of racketeering, bribery, and mail fraud among other charges.
The indictment alleges that Mayor Grace took bribes and tried to extort officials as part of a fictitious scheme called “Cifer 5000” set up by federal agents as part of an investigation titled "Operation Blighted Officials."
Authorities also claim Grace tried to bring a FEMA trailer park project to St. Gabriel in exchange for cash following Hurricane Katrina, and that he took almost $20,000 from the city's bank account to invest in a personal project, then tried to cover it up.
The indictments came after members of the St. Gabriel city council appeared before a grand jury this morning. If convicted of the charges, Grace could face up to 180 years in prison and up to a $2.75 million fine.
Three other local mayors and two police chiefs have also been indicted and a former city councilman in Port Allen has pleaded guilty as part of this investigation.
News 2 crews will have the latest on today’s indictment starting on News 2 at 4, as well as right here on WBRZ.com.