White Castle mayor, police chief indicted on racketeering charges

Deidre Cruse, Government Reporter

A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted White Castle Mayor Maurice A. Brown and his brother Police Chief Mario D. Brown on 20 counts including violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, U. S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. announced in a news release.

If convicted, Maurice Brown faces up to 170 years imprisonment and a $3.25 million fine, and Mario Brown faces up to 145 years in prison and a $3 million fine.

The grand jury issued the 27-page indictment on the opening day of qualifying in White Castle's municipal elections. (Both men have qualified for re-election, according to Iberville Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont Jr.) It also came on the day that members of the White Castle Board of Aldermen were subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury.

The indictment – which stemmed from an ongoing investigation called “Operation Blighted Officials” – also charged the brothers with mail fraud, wire fraud, use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering and forfeiture.

It alleges the men used their official positions in exchange for cash and other things of value over $10,000 for the benefit of businesspeople in connection with more than $5 million worth of transactions in three different bribery schemes.

In one scheme, Maurice brown allegedly obtained cash and other things of value from business people in exchange for using his position as mayor to promote and obtain money for the businesspeople's conceptual product known as the “Cifer 5000.” The product is an automated waste container cleaning system using   specially designed and equipped trucks to clean and sanitize commercial and residential waste containers.

According to the indictment, the second bribery scheme involved the defendants obtaining cash and other things of value in exchange for Mario Brown using false representations to obtain confidential law enforcement information from the FBI and providing it to one of the business people.

Mario Brown also is accused in the third bribery scheme for obtaining cash from one of the businesspeople in exchange for using his position to fraudulently obtain leniency for an individual facing drug charges in Connecticut.

“It is always a sad day when a public official betrays the trust of the citizens he has sworn to represent and protect,” Cazayoux said. “I am thankful for the diligence and sophisticated work of the FBI in this case, and am hopeful that all of our citizens will realize that all of us must abide by the law.”

Two weeks ago, the FBI searched and removed records White Castle Town Hall, Port Allen City Hall and police station and St. Gabriel City Hall.

Also Wednesday, the grand jury indicted the mayor of New Roads, Thomas A. Nelson Jr. on violations of the Rico Act and forfeiture. If convicted, Nelson faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The U. S. Attonrey's office noted that an indictment is a grand jury's determination that probable cause exists to believe a defendant has committed offenses, and that defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial.