“This community cannot abide by police officers joining the people on the other side (of the law) or becoming the people on the other side.” James brady, U.S. district judge, admonishing former Baton Rouge police Officer Leonard Jackson
A former Baton Rouge police officer who admitted plotting with others to fix criminal and traffic cases in City Court was sentenced to two years in federal prison Thursday in what a prosecutor called an ongoing probe of bribery allegations in the local court system.
U.S. District Judge James Brady also ordered Leonard P. Jackson to pay a $1,000 fine and report to prison by Oct. 15. Jackson’s wife has lung cancer and might have surgery in late September, he told the judge.
Jackson, who resigned from the Police Department in October 2009, pleaded guilty the following month to felony charges resulting from a federal investigation dubbed Operation Illegal Motion.
Jackson and nine others pleaded guilty in the probe. Jackson was the last of those to be sentenced.
When asked outside Brady’s courtroom if Jackson’s sentencing marked the end of Operation Illegal Motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson replied without hesitation, “No.”
In a signed admission, Jackson stated that from 2006 until October 2009 he “accepted cash payments in exchange for causing criminal and traffic charges pending in (Baton Rouge City Court) to be dismissed, reduced, or otherwise ‘fixed.’ ”
Jackson also pleaded guilty to using a telephone to arrange a bribe for himself. The bribe was paid in return for Jackson’s help in collecting a $10,000 gambling debt on behalf of a man with a traffic citation, according to a bill of information. The man was an undercover FBI agent posing as a gambling operator, prosecutors have said.
“You just didn’t stop with the bribery in the City Court thing,” Brady told Jackson after Amundson summarized Jackson’s illegal conduct.
“I really let a whole entire community down,” Jackson said, apologizing specifically to Mayor-President Kip Holden and former Police Chief Jeff LeDuff.
Brady said Jackson held himself out to be a “muscle man” who could “bring the heat down on people.”
“This community cannot abide by police officers joining the people on the other side (of the law) or becoming the people on the other side,” the judge stressed.
Brady noted that Jackson is college educated and said, “I don’t know what went wrong. I have to attribute it to pure greed.”
Jackson’s attorney, Angela Lockett, told the judge that Jackson has been a productive and law-abiding citizen since his 2009 arrest.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about this,” Jackson said. “This is something that’s going to take me a long time to get over.”
Amundson said in court that Jackson was one of the first defendants in the federal case to plead guilty.
“His cooperation was immediate and has been ongoing,” the prosecutor said. “Whatever we have asked him to do he has done.”
Operation Illegal Motion has unearthed wrongdoing involving bribery, prostitution, drug offenses, domestic violence and ticket-fixing, prosecutors have said.
Jackson admitted referring individuals seeking to have criminal charges fixed to Edward “Pooh” James, a middleman who facilitated bribes to prosecutors, including Flitcher Bell.
James, who was a longtime chief investigator for the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defender’s Office, pleaded guilty to charges that he bribed Bell and other state and city court officials to fix both criminal and traffic cases. James ended his 35-year career by retiring in October 2009. He was later sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Bell, a former senior city prosecutor, also resigned in October 2009 and admitted he took bribes to dismiss criminal charges.
He was sentenced to three years in prison.