Former attorney’s appeal set Monday
NEW ORLEANS — A former Mississippi attorney is asking the federal appeals court in New Orleans to overturn his guilty plea in a judicial bribery case that also involved his father.
Zach Scruggs spent 14 months in prison, lost his law license and paid a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty in 2008 to misprision of a felony — failing to report knowledge that a colleague had spoken illegally to a judge.
Scruggs says he knew nothing about a scheme to bribe the judge who presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against his father, imprisoned attorney Richard Scruggs, and others.
Charges included bribery aimed to deprive the public of an official’s honest services. Zach Scruggs’ arguments rely on a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting such cases to bribery and kickbacks.
His hearing is Monday.
DeQuincy council eyes public safety tax
DEQUINCY — City Council members are expected to vote Monday night on a proposal to levy a half-cent public safety tax, putting into effect the 15-year renewal of a tax voters approved in November 2011.
The city’s Police Department receives 58 percent of the revenue generated by tax with the Fire Department getting the remainder. The tax generates about $247,000 a year.
Public safety officials said the measure, which passed with 73 percent of the vote, is essential to day-to-day operations.
Fire Chief Johnny Copeland said the money helps the city maintain its fire rating under the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana.
Low ratings decrease residents’ property insurance premiums. DeQuincy recently attained a rating of four, which, Copeland said, is good given the small size of the Fire Department.
New use studied for Westwego floodgate
HOUMA — Terrebonne Parish Levee District officials say a second-hand floodgate from Westwego could provide Pointe-aux-Chenes residents with some quick flood protection for a little money.
The 11-foot-tall barge floodgate was installed as stop-gap flood protection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 while it finished a larger floodgate in Bayou Segnette,
It is set to be removed in August.
West Jefferson officials approached the Terrebonne Parish Levee District about the possibility of using it.
Stevie Smith, vice president of All South Engineers, has been overseeing technical aspects of the project. He said local levee officials and state lawmakers are working with Cajun Constructors of Baton Rouge to donate it to Terrebonne. The company is tasked with getting rid of the floodgate.
“If we get this done, it will have been a group effort,” Smith said, adding state Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, and state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, have been negotiating with Cajun Constructors. “It will be a great deal, if we can work it out, to acquire this floodgate at low-to-no cost. This barge is worth up to $750,000.”
Smith added that while officials with Cajun Constructors seem inclined to donate the floodgate, the details are still being worked out and it isn’t a done deal.
The Associated Press