APRIL 27, 2009
A Louisiana judge previously suspended for violating judicial conduct rules in a separate incident has been arrested and charged with corruption for taking bribes to alter defendants’ bonds.
It marks the third case in the last decade that a Louisiana state judge is criminally charged for bond manipulation. Jefferson Parish judges Ronald Bodenheimer and Alan Green both went to jail for taking bribes from a bail bonds executive to alter bonds for the firm’s customers.
Those judges got busted during an extensive federal investigation—Operation Wrinkled Robe—into Jefferson Parish Courthouse corruption. Bodenheimer spent nearly four years in prison and Green is scheduled to complete his five-year sentence this summer.
The latest state judge to be charged is St. Bernard Parish’s Wayne Cresap, who has presided over the 34th Judicial District’s Division C since 1999. The Democrat judge was elected to a full six-year term in 2002 and was reelected without opposition in 2008.
Federal prosecutors say Judge Cresap took money from two lawyers in exchange for converting defendants’ secured bonds into personal surety bonds backed solely by a defendant’s pledge to pay if he fails to appear for court. Secured bonds require the posting of property or payment to a bail bondsman.
An FBI affidavit says Judge Cresap agreed to at least some of these shady deals with an attorney representing St. Bernard jail defendants who could not afford their original bonds. The judge agreed to convert the bonds to unsecured personal surety bonds in exchange for cash payments that would be split between him and the attorney.
Cresap has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In 2006 he was suspended by the state Supreme Court without pay for failing to remain neutral and having improper private communications with officials involved in a wetlands restoration case.
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