Orleans Parish criminal court official arrested in bribery

The head of the community service office at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court was arrested Thursday on charges of bribery, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said.

Cannizzaro said Cassandra Johnson earlier this week accepted a cash bribe in return for falsifying public records that would have cleared a convicted criminal defendant of “obligations to the criminal justice system.”

Johnson is alleged to have accepted a bribe during a sting operation the DA’s Office conducted, Cannizzaro said.

The sting happened after the DA’s Office and New Orleans police officers assigned to that office began to investigate complaints that Johnson was soliciting bribes to illegally alter and falsify public records.

The community service office oversees a program in which defendants complete janitorial and grounds-keeping jobs at the courthouse on Tulane and Broad if they are indigent.

Members of the DA’s Office, accompanied by FBI agents, arrested Johnson on Thursday, Cannizzaro said.

“While I recognize that this and other recent events have caused us to question the practices of some in the criminal justice system, the citizens of this community deserve to have a fair and effective criminal justice system that is beyond suspicion,” Cannizzaro said. “I will continue to work as long and as hard as it takes to see that they get just that.”

Robert Kazik, judicial administrator for Orleans Parish criminal court, released a statement late Thursday afternoon that said the court has cooperated with law enforcement during its investigation into Johnson and will continue to cooperate with authorities.