New Orleans Pol Admits Taking Bribes

Councilman collected $20K for contract in city plagued by problems

By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 14, 2007 2:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – As if New Orleans didn't have enough to contend with, a city councilman yesterday pleaded guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes and resigned. Oliver Thomas confessed he collected the money from a restaurateur seeking to keep a lucrative city contract. He also demanded the businessman hire a friend of his, who paid further kickbacks to Thomas.

The judge called the crime a "body blow" to a city "already reeling under a wave of public corruption." An FBI agent remarked that while corrupt politicians in the north tend to "skim the cream, in Louisiana, they skim the cream, they steal the milk, hijack the bottles and look for the cow." Thomas faces up to 10 years in jail.

Attorney Clarence Roby Jr., wipes his eyes after New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas spoke at a press conference and announced his resignation in New Orleans Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas pled guilty to one count of federal felony bribery. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Attorney Clarence Roby Jr., wipes his eyes after New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas spoke at a press conference and announced his resignation in New Orleans Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas pled...   (Associated Press)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, center, speaks at a press conference with his attorney Clarence Roby Jr., right, and his wife Angelle Thomas, left, as he announces his resignation in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas, once thought to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2010,...
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, center, speaks at a press conference with his attorney Clarence Roby Jr., right, and his wife Angelle Thomas, left, as he announces his resignation in New...   (Associated Press)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, center, speaks at a press conference with his attorney Clarence Roby Jr., right, and his wife Angelle Thomas as he announces his resignation in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas, once thought to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2010, pleaded...
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, center, speaks at a press conference with his attorney Clarence Roby Jr., right, and his wife Angelle Thomas as he announces his resignation in New Orleans,...   (Associated Press)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, right, leaves after a press conference along with his wife Angelle Thomas, left, after he announced his resignation in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas, once thought to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2010, pleaded guilty Monday to taking $15,...
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas, right, leaves after a press conference along with his wife Angelle Thomas, left, after he announced his resignation in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007....   (Associated Press)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas speaks at a press conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas, once thought to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2010, pleaded guilty Monday to taking $15,000 in bribes from a prominent businessman and resigned from the council.   (AP...
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas speaks at a press conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas, once thought to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2010, pleaded guilty Monday...   (Associated Press)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann answers a question as U.S. Attorney Jim Letten looks on during a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Mann and Letten discussed the guilty plea of New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas on charges of bribery.  (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann answers a question as U.S. Attorney Jim Letten looks on during a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Mann and Letten discussed the guilty plea of New...   (Associated Press)
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, gestures as he talks with FBI special agent James Bernazzani before the start of a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Letten and Bernazzani discussed the guilty plea of New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas on charges of bribery.  (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, gestures as he talks with FBI special agent James Bernazzani before the start of a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Letten and Bernazzani discussed the...   (Associated Press)
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten gestures during a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Letten was discussing the guilty plea of New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas on charges of bribery.  (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten gestures during a news conference in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Letten was discussing the guilty plea of New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas on charges of bribery....   (Associated Press)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas walks into a press conference to announce his resignation in New Orleans Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas pled guilty to one count of federal felony bribery. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
New Orleans City Council member Oliver Thomas walks into a press conference to announce his resignation in New Orleans Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Thomas pled guilty to one count of federal felony bribery....   (Associated Press)
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