Alleged plot included salary hike
LAFAYETTE — Two St. Landry Parish School Board members accused of asking a superintendent candidate for $5,000 each in return for their support are also accused of pledging to pad the man’s salary to cover the cost of the bribe, according to court documents filed this week.
A federal grand jury in October indicted board members Quincy M. Richard Sr. and John Miller, both of Opelousas, on federal bribery charges.
They are accused of asking superintendent candidate Joseph Cassimere for $5,000 each in return for their votes naming him to the post.
Federal prosecutors revealed little about the case at the time of the indictment, but court filings this week laid out extensive details about the investigation.
Prosecutors allege that Miller and Richard met with Cassimere a “number” of times in the three months leading up to the scheduled Sept. 26 vote on the superintendent job and had initially asked for $7,500 each.
Cassimere, who was cooperating with federal agents, met Miller and Richard at the Quarters Restaurant and Casino in Opelousas on Sept. 24 in an exchange of cash that was videotaped and audiotaped by the FBI, according to the court filings.
Prosecutors also allege that Miller and Richard “made clear to Cassimere that the $5,000 per payment secured their favorable vote for an inflated superintendent’s salary, once Cassimere was elected,” according to the court filings.
Miller and Richard allegedly told Cassimere to request more money than the amount advertised for the job and that they would vote for the higher salary, according to the court filings.
The alleged scheme was to ensure that “Cassimere recouped his payment for their favorable votes,” prosecutors wrote.
FBI agents confronted Miller and Richard as they left the casino “with their vote payoff in hand,” according to the court filings.
The court filings outlining the investigation were in response to a move by Richard to have the federal charge dismissed, arguing that federal prosecutors do not have jurisdiction to pursue the case.
Most criminal cases handled in federal court have some connection with the federal government.
Federal prosecutors argue that the bribery case can be pursued in federal court because the St. Landry Parish School Board, like most school boards, receives federal education dollars.
Richard’s attorney has argued that the allegations do not involve actions that directly impacted the spending of federal money.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Jan. 17.
Miller and Richard have both pleaded innocent and remain on the School Board.
Cassimere, who has been serving as acting superintendent, was among five candidates for the superintendent’s job.
The school system has been without a superintendent since former Superintendent Michael Nassif stepped down last year.
A vote on naming someone to the post has been postponed indefinitely.