OCTOBER 16, 2009
The outlaw mayor of an upscale Louisiana town, previously indicted for perjury and caught driving drunk on a causeway, has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges for using public funds as his personal piggy bank and taking hefty bribes from city contractors.
Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price has been under state and federal investigation for more than a year and finally resigned a few days ago amid mounting evidence of his longtime criminal behavior. For nearly three decades the disgraced lawmaker has served publicly in the wealthy bedroom community of about 11,000 that sits across a lake from New Orleans.
Prosecutors say Price accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of lavish vacations from various firms with lucrative city contracts and regularly dipped into the town’s coffers to pay for an array of personal expenses, including large gambling debts, fine wine, clothes and groceries for his family. He also illegally used campaign funds to pay for similar personal items.
A state audit blasted the mayor last year for racking up $9,000 of personal expenses on a city credit card and improperly accepting valuable gifts—including trips on a private jet to California and Canada—from companies that do business with the city. A Mexican cruise, worth $3,000, was among the personal items the mayor charged taxpayers, auditors found.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors this week, the crooked mayor pleaded guilty to tax evasion and depriving citizens of honest services. He will be sentenced early next year and faces more than two decades in prison although he probably will get a shorter sentence. Price’s story certainly illustrates that you need not be a high-profile legislator to commit major fraud.
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