White Castle chief pays ethics fine

White Castle Police Chief Mario Brown has paid a $500 fine for violating state ethics laws.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics signed off on a consent opinion ending the case which stems from the “Operation Blighted Officials” federal investigation which resulted in other public officials going to jail.

Brown had already signed the ethics agreement, which related to his accepting sporting event tickets. Brown was acquitted by a federal jury on 11 counts of racketeering, wire fraud and use of a telephone in aid of racketeering.

His brother, former White Castle Mayor Maurice Brown was convicted of federal charges during the same trial.

The two were among several area local elected officials caught up in a sting operation involving a paid FBI informant and undercover FBI agent who posed as corrupt businessmen.

Mario Brown had been accused of accepting approximately $4,000 in cash, tickets to Saints games and tickets to New Orleans Hornets games in connection with that trial. The ethics charges relate to those transactions.

The ethics board approved the consent opinion without discussion and with no objections.

However, after the vote board member Steve Lemke complained about the amount of the fine.

“I lament we are letting him off this lightly” on a case involving “influence peddling,” said Lemke. Lemke noted that the board had just levied a $1,500 fine on someone for filing a personal financial disclosure report 266 days late while Brown had been fined $500.

In the consent order, Brown agrees that the ethics charges against him “are factually supported by stated facts” stated in the document and that he violated two state ethics laws.

The laws provide that no public servant can:

The agreement stated that Brown accepted $2,500 worth of New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Hornets tickets from 2008 to 2010 from an undercover informant, who posed as a representative of a company known as “Cifer 5000,” a sanitary garbage system.

The agreement said the tickets were given in exchange for providing the representative with law enforcement information which was not available to the public.

In addition, the agreement stated that in 2010 Brown wrote correspondence to a prosecutor in Connecticut seeking leniency for a person facing drug charges in exchange for a $500 cash payment.