NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Justice Department prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence for a former Louisiana wildlife official who pleaded guilty in 2011 to taking payoffs from a landfill company owner's businesses as a reward for trying to keep a rival landfill closed.
Henry Mouton faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday that he deserves some leniency when U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman sentences him at a hearing scheduled for July 24.
Prosecutors argue Mouton should get credit for cooperating in a broader investigation involving a landfill, but they didn't recommend a specific prison term.
"Although this is a non-violent 'white-collar' case, crimes such as Mouton's corrode public trust in government, harm governmental operations at the expense of honest taxpayers, and often lead to the adoption of public policies that cause public harm," prosecutors wrote.
A year before his indictment, Mouton agreed to secretly tape a call with an unidentified co-conspirator, according to prosecutors.
"That call went to voicemail, however, and no recording was made," they wrote. "In short, Mouton did everything asked of him, provided truthful and complete information, and cooperated in a timely manner."
Mouton's attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, said she was pleased with prosecutors' request.
"I'm glad that the government has chosen to leave this to the discretion of the court," she said.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department dropped its fraud case against River Birch landfill executive Dominick Fazzio and his brother-in-law. The local U.S. Attorney's office stepped aside from that case after the resignation of a veteran prosecutor who had been anonymously posting comments on a newspaper's website.
Mouton is accused of receiving nearly $464,000 in bribes during his five-year tenure as a commissioner. The company owner accused of paying Mouton wasn't identified, but his indictment said he touted River Birch.
"The sheer value of the bribe payments Mouton received and the fact that those bribes were received during the entirety of Mouton's tenure highlight the egregious nature of Mouton's criminal conduct," prosecutors wrote.