33-month term for attempted bribery to begin March 4
LAFAYETTE — Former St. Landry Parish School Board member Quincy Richard Sr. was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison Tuesday for demanding $5,000 from a candidate for school superintendent.
A federal grand jury indicted Richard and former board member John Miller in 2012 for soliciting bribes of $5,000 each from superintendent candidate Joseph Cassimere in return for their vote of support giving him the job.
Cassimere, a longtime school administrator in the parish, reported the bribery attempt to federal authorities, who captured the board members on videotape pocketing cash-stuffed envelopes in a set-up exchange with Cassimere at a restaurant in Opelousas.
Richard was ordered to report to federal prison by March 4 and U.S. District Judge Richard Haik quickly dismissed a request from the former board member to remain free while appealing the sentence.
“That’s not going to happen,” Haik said.
Miller pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Richard, who was convicted in August after a two-day trial.
Haik sentenced Miller in November to 10 months home confinement, but Richard faced a stiffer penalty because defendants who fight their charges in court and lose are subject to more time under the sentencing guidelines used in federal court.
Still, the 33-month prison term was at the bottom of the recommended sentencing range for the case — 33 months to 41 months in prison.
Haik denied a request by Richard’s attorney to dip below those guidelines.
The judge also ordered Richard to pay a $10,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service while serving three years under supervision after his release from prison.
Richard, in comments to the judge, did not explicitly apologize for the bribery attempt, but he did thank federal prosecutor Howard Parker and the judge for being treated with respect and told Cassimere that he admired him as a person.
“In my opinion, he has been a friend and will always be a friend,” Richard said of the man who turned him in to federal authorities.
Cassimere told Haik that his decision to speak out in the case has left him sometimes feeling awkward in the community, like “living in a glass looking out.”
“Sometimes it’s tough to do the right thing,” Cassimere said.
The judge chastised Richard for remaining on the School Board after the bribery indictment and even casting a vote against Cassimere when the board voted last year to select Edward Brown for the job.
“That shows me that there was no remorse whatsoever,” Haik told Richard. “… That’s an arrogance that this court cannot disregard.”
Federal prosecutors said Miller and Richard, in return for the cash, pledged to vote in support of Cassimere for the job and to lobby other board members to do the same.
At trial, Richard’s attorney — his son, Quincy Richard Jr. — had argued that the board member believed the cash-filled envelope he is seen pocketing on video actually contained official School Board correspondence.
That conflicted with statements at Richard’s trial from FBI agent Pamela McCarthy, who testified that when she confronted Richard in the restaurant’s parking lot after the payoff, the board member told her that he had planned to use the money for new tires and rims for his Corvette.