Thursday, September 1, 2011

St. Pierre sentenced to 17 1/2 years

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Mark St. Pierre, former city of New Orleans technology contractor who was convicted in May for his role in a multiyear, multimillion dollar City Hall swindle, was sentenced to 210 months—or 17 1/2 years—in prison today by U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon. St. Pierre will begin serving his sentence on October 14.

Eldon denied prosecutors' request that St. Pierre be ordered to pay the city $911,000 in restitution—the same amount he was convicted of handing out in bribes to former city chief technology officer Greg Meffert, Meffert's wife, and former city director of management information systems Anthony Jones between 2004 and 2007, in return for millions in no-bid contracts Jones and Meffert funneled to businesses St. Pierre controlled. St. Pierre has, however, been ordered to forfeit $3.2 million for his role in the conspiracy.

In his statement to the court, St. Pierre presented himself as a community leader and a devoted father, thanking Fallon for the three months he's had to spend time with his wife and children between guilty verdict and his sentencing.

"We are a family of great faith. We have faith in God and faith in the legal system," St. Pierre said.

Pleading for leniency, St. Pierre’s lawyer Eddie Castaing called St. Pierre a community leader and a devoted father, a good man overall, after all look how many friends he has.

Castaing pointed to the more than 150 letters sent to the court on St. Pierre’s behalf. St. Pierre's family and friends were in attendance for the hearing, some audibly crying throughout.

Fallon was unimpressed.

"On Thusdays beginning at 2 p.m. every week, I sentence people for their crimes.They most often appear alone," or with only their lawyers, Fallon said. "They have little education, no resources. ... It's no excuse, but it is something of an explanation. Their American dream has become something of a nightmare. None of that is applicable to you. ... You let your family down. You let your friends down. You really let your community down."

The 210 month sentence was at least 2 1/2 years shorter than what federal prosecutors were seeking. A pre-sentencing report (PSR) by the U.S. Department of Probation recommended a 20 to 24 year sentence for St. Pierre. Castaing presented 22 objections to that report. Castaing claimed that, among other things, the PSR wrongly recommended sentence enhancements for perjury and for his role as a "leader" in the conspiracy.

Fallon didn't accept the perjury objection, saying that the record showed St. Pierre, after being sworn, testified untruthfully in claiming that he did not bribe public officials. He did, however, accept the argument that St. Pierre may have been incorrectly characterized as a leader in the scheme to defraud the city—to a degree. Fallon ruled that St. Pierre's role was as a manager rather than a leader—still a sentence enhancement but a lesser one—and not a leader. Fallon said that others—most likely Meffert—served a "more significant role" than St. Pierre in the crimes.

Fallon finally rejected the defense's argument that St. Pierre's crimes represented a mere aberration in the life of an otherwise virtuous family man, this based largely on the fact that the crimes went on for three years.

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