Baton Rouge Louisiana. Former St. Gabriel Mayor George L Grace Sr., 68, who served as mayor of St. Gabriel was sentenced to 22 years in a federal prison on Monday. Grace was convicted of seven charges that included bribery, rackerteering, mail fraud and wire fraud by visiting United States District Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. on March 3.
Hicks described as the leader of a group of municipal officials in New Roads, Port Allen and White Castle who used their political power to use for their own purposes. Hicks said he could have sent Grace to prison for life as federal guidelines gave him the power to do so.
Grace was convicted as result of an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation called Operation Blighted Officials as agents posed as a dummy company called Cifer 5000 to do business with Grace to give them a garbage can cleaning operation to work in his city.
Grace attorney Lance Unglesby said his client did not know the difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe. Unglesby said Grace "was doing things that he believed were good for his community."
Assistant United States district attorney Carl R Amundson said eyewitnesses for the prosecution said if you double crossed Grace in your business dealings they would be in trouble. They painted the image of the mayor as a person that took bribes for business contracts in his town for a long time.
Grace under federal guidelines will be eligible for parole in 2030. It is believed to be the strongest punishment against a politician in Louisiana by the federal goverment.
News sources The Advocate, WXVT15.com, Associated Press and Bill Lodge