Undercover agent in Brown case convicted of fraud

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

An FBI agent who worked undercover in the sting operation in which three Iberville Parish officials were indicted has been convicted of 15 counts of wire fraud and three counts of bankruptcy fraud, court officials confirmed Tuesday.

If sentenced to the maximum on all charges in the Tennessee case, Special Agent Darin Lee McAllister, 44, faces up to 315 years in prison and $6.5 million in fines, according to the U. S. Justice Department.

McAllister was identified as the lead agent in “Operation Blighted Officials,” the sting operation which led to federal indictments for racketeering and fraud against former White Castle Mayor Maurice “Big Moe” Brown and his brother, Police Chief Mario Brown, St. Gabriel Mayor George L. Grace and three other Baton Rouge area officials. The Browns are scheduled for trial in U. S. District Court in Baton Rouge

“He was the lead FBI investigator in this case and now is a convicted felon,” said Bruce A. Craft, Moe Brown's attorney.”It speaks to the credibility of the government's case against Mr. Brown.”

“During the course of this investigation, he was under investigation by the U. S. Attorney's Office in Tennessee and was indicted while he was undercover in [the local] case,” said John S. McLindon, Mario Brown's attorney. “I don't know if the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.”

U. S. Attorney Don Cazayoux said he is referring reporters to his statement in open court that he did not plan to call McAllister as a witness against the Browns, the first of the defendants scheduled for trial.

“We informed the court that we did not anticipate calling him as a witness, and he was not a big part of the case,” Cazayoux said.

McLindon said McAllister was involved in only about 20 percent of the contacts with the Browns, and that a civilian posing as a businessman was involved in the other 80 percent.

“He's the only law enforcement officer who was in the trenches,” the attorney said. “Without him, they only have a private citizen who you really don't know much about.”

“It's very unusual that a government agent involved in a government investigation would be convicted of fraud himself during he course of the investigation,” Craft said.

According to the justice department, McAllister was found guilty of devising a wire fraud scheme to defraud a mortgage company in connection with the purchase of $1.25 million in rental property purchases in 2006, and with making three false statements during his bankruptcy proceedings in 2009.

U. S. District Judge Ralph Tyson scheduled Grace for trial on in February 2012, Cazayoux said.