'Moe' Brown is off ballot...pleads not guilty

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

The Louisiana Secretary of State's office has officially removed the name of White Castle Mayor Maurice “Big Moe” Brown from the list of candidates competing in the October 2 mayoral election primary, Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont confirmed Monday.

“He's off the ballot completely,” said Dupont, who received a “notice of candidate removal” from the Secretary of State's office last week after the deadline for Brown to appeal a July 16 ruling against his candidacy.

District Judge Alvin Batiste Jr. sustained a Louisiana Board of Ethics' objection to Brown's candidacy for re-election, and disqualified the mayor from the race.

The ethics board sued on grounds that Brown signed a sworn statement that he had no outstanding ethics fines when he filed for re-election.

Ethics board attorneys presented evidence showing Brown had signed an agreement in October to pay a $3,000 fine for an ethics violation, but had made no payments. The board found he had violated state ethics law by performing $15,000 worth of security services for a White Castle convenience store from which the Town of White Castle was purchasing gasoline.

The mayor's attorney, Bruce Craft, said they would appeal the ruling. Craft could not be reached for comment on why they did not go forward with the appeal.

Mayor Brown qualified to seek his fifth full term in office on the same day a federal grand jury indicted him on 13 counts of bribery and fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Brown took office as mayor in April 1993 after winning a special election to replace Mayor Blue Guercio, who died in office.

Meanwhile, Brown's brother who was indicted with him, Police Chief Mario D. Brown, appeared in U. S. District Court last week for arraignment on 11 criminal charges and also pleaded not guilty.

The indictments stemmed from an FBI investigation called “Operation Blighted Officials.” They are accused of using their official positions for the benefit of businesspeople promoting a product known as “Cifer 5000” in exchange for cash, tickets to sporting events and hotel rooms valued at more than $10,000.

Cifer 5000 was described as an automated waste container cleaning system using specially designed and equipped trucks to clean and sanitize commercial and residential waste containers.