Former City Court clerk pays ethics fine

A former Baton Rouge City Court employee has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine to end an ethics case against her involving the receipt of bribes.

Ingrid Simon signed a settlement with the state Board of Ethics, which had charged her with improperly benefiting from the public job she held.

The consent opinion signed by Simon said she violated state law “by virtue of soliciting and accepting $100 on 30 occasions during the years 2007 to 2010, from persons whose activities were regulated by her agency” for having their traffic charges dismissed.

Simon, a former legal and clerical specialist for Baton Rouge City Court, was sentenced in July 2013 to two years of probation and fined $250 after admitting she accepted more than $5,000 in bribes. Simon pleaded guilty to a federal count of using telephones and ATMs in aid of racketeering, a charge that carries a possible penalty of five years in prison.

In a signed stipulation, Simon acknowledged that she used her cellphone to communicate with people from whom she solicited bribes. Her written admission also showed she directed those people to ATMs across the street from City Court. In return for the cash bribes, Simon admitted she made court computer entries that falsely showed prosecutors had dismissed the traffic tickets.

The Ethics Board signed off on the settlement at its Friday meeting.

Simon will pay the $2,500 fine at a rate of $50 a month, which got the attention of Ethics Board member Peppi Bruneau, of New Orleans. “That’s a four-year payout,” Bruneau said. “She’s fixed enough tickets she ought to be able to pay.”

Simon was employed by Baton Rouge City Court from November 2002 until she resigned in September 2010. She served as a senior clerical specialist from March 3, 2007, until she resigned. In that job, her duties included advising traffic violators of procedures and accepting and recording fines.

According to ethics documents, Simon “told individuals who had come to Baton Rouge City Court to pay their traffic (fines) that she could help them, in exchange for $100 she would have their traffic charges dismissed.”

State ethics law prohibits a public employee from soliciting or accepting anything of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person if the public servant “knows or reasonably should know” that such person conducts operations or activities that are regulated by their agency.

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