UPDATE: ‘Blighted Official’ case may soon come to an end


POSTED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:34pm

THIS IS AN NBC33 UPDATE: In federal court, the federal corruption trial for former St. Gabriel Mayor George grace could come to an end this week.

Grace on the stand for the second time in the trial.

Lawyers tell NBC33 News closing arguments could be as soon as tomorrow, and the case could be in the jury's hands by Friday.

Grace is the last in a string of local leaders accused of bribery.

The arrests and charges come after the federal corruption sting.

THIS IS AN NBC33 UPDATE (1/27/12): The first full day of testimony in the trial of former Saint Gabriel Mayor George Grace. Saint Gabriel businessman Blaine Efferson was first on the stand. He says he gave Grace $7,500 during several meetings.

The prosecution alleging Efferson was forced to pay the cash so that his company, "Crawler Suppy" could continue doing business with the city of Saint Gabriel. This was business that totalled close to $500,000.

The defense arguing the money was only for campaign contributions and to sponsor an event at a Black Mayor's Association meeting. Only one other witnes took the stand on Friday.

A Houston businessman allegedly involved in a seperate bribery scheme involving Grace is scheduled to take the stand in Federal Court on Monday morning at nine a.m.

THIS IS AN NBC33 NEWS UPDATE: In opening arguments prosecutors argued former Saint Gabriel Mayor George Grace did some illegal business while in office. They say he accepted several bribes from legitimate businessman and some from undercover F.B.I. agents.

The defense says he never took any bribes and any business he did while in office was legal.

THIS IS AN NBC33 NEWS UPDATE: Eleven women and four men will decide the fate of ex-Saint Gabriel Mayor George Grace on 11 federal charges. Opening statements are expected to begin Thursday afternoon.

ORIGINAL STORY: Today was the second day of jury selection in the final "Operation: Blighted Officials" trial. It's been two days and there's still no jury in the case against ex-St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace.

Grace is accused of taking bribes to bring a fake garbage can cleaning company named Cipher 5000 to the city. He's also alleged to have taken bribes in several real estate deals in the city.

Additionally, Grace is accused of attempting to extort a Houston businessman to develop a trailer park for Hurricane Katrina. In all, he's facing eleven separate counts and is looking at 180 years begins bars and $2.75 million in fines.

Five of the other "Blighted Officials" have been convicted. The lone exception is White Castle Police Chief Mario Brown.

His brother, former White Castle Mayor Maurice Brown and EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden are possible witnesses in the case.

The case is expected to last up to three weeks.

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