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Trial resumes Monday for Port Allen police chief

4 years ago October 23, 2011 Oct 23, 2011 Sunday, October 23 2011 Sunday, October 23, 2011 8:23:13 AM CDT in News
Source: Associated Press

BATON ROUGE- Trial resumes Monday for Port Allen Police Chief Fred Smith, who was indicted after an FBI sting that paid officials in several Capitol-area cities to get public contracts for a fictional business to clean garbage cans.

The trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson is expected to last for about two weeks.

In opening statements Friday, prosecutors said he solicited bribes but his attorney said federal agents seduced an innocent man into crimes they created.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Jefferson told the jury, "Time and time again, Chief Smith put his hand out, asking for bribes."

Defense attorney J. David Bourland countered, "There was no crime here. We wouldn't be here today if not for the FBI. The FBI created the scheme."

He said Smith was "doing an honorable job . just walking along and minding his business.

"What happens? Bam! Up jumps trouble. Trouble found him."

Former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis and former City Councilman Johnny L. Johnson Sr. pleaded guilty to felony charges as a result of what the FBI called Operation Blighted Officials.

Jefferson told jurors that, because outlaw public officials can be adept at concealing their crimes, sting operations often are necessary to expose public corruption.

If not for undercover agents, Jefferson added, "The chief's corruption would have continued to go undetected."

Jefferson said Smith sold two Port Allen police badges to FBI undercover operative William Myles, who posed as a corrupt executive with the fictional garbage-can cleaning business, called Cifer 5000.

He said Smith also fixed traffic tickets for additional money, took $1,000 to write a letter seeking lenient treatment for a drug defendant in Connecticut and took hundreds of dollars to use confidential law enforcement data bases to get background information on people for Myles.

Bourland said that Smith received less than $4,000 from Myles, who was paid $661,048 over several years working in Louisiana.

Jefferson said Myles was working on more than a dozen other cases involving several states, national security investigations, probes into bank fraud and other efforts at exposing public corruption.

He said Smith "made it clear he wanted to be a player in this scheme of corruption," and that audio and video recordings will prove the FBI's case.

Jefferson noted that Myles began working for the FBI in an effort to secure favorable treatment for his college-age son, who was indicted for drug offenses.

Bourland suggested that federal officials' letter on behalf of Myles' son was no different than the letter that Smith wrote on behalf of the fictional drug defendant in Connecticut.

Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Patricia Jones asked FBI Special Agent Maurice J. Hattier Jr. whether there was a difference between those two letters.

Hattier replied that no one paid a bribe to have the letter written on behalf of Myles' son.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson questioned Port Allen Police Detective Jeremy Thompson about four people whose names Smith asked him to run through the National Crime Information Center in West Virginia.

Thompson said Smith told him the background checks were for an investigation, but computer operators balked, saying the request had to include the type of investigation.

Amundson asked whether the four names were ever involved in a burglary investigation in Port Allen.

"Not that I'm aware of," Thompson replied.

Amundson then asked whether Thompson would have requested NCIC information had he known money and meals were provided for its receipt.

"No, I would not," Thompson said.

The trial resumes Monday in the courtroom of Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson. It is expected to last for about two weeks.

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