Lafayette’s Henry Mouton appears to have reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on his multiple charges of conspiracy, bribery and lying to federal investigators. According to the latest Times-Picayune
report, Mouton will appear in court June 1 for a second arraignment, a move that likely means a change in his initial plea of not guilty.
Mouton, 54, is accused of using his position as a Wildlife and Fisheries commissioner to lobby against the old Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans that reopened after Hurricane Katrina — and receiving $463,970 from a rival landfill owner in return. The rival landfill owner was not identified in the indictment, but court documents and media reports immediately linked Mouton to River Birch landfill owner Fred Heebe, one of several parties under federal investigation for possible ties to government corruption in Jefferson Parish.
The indictment against Mouton claims he used his position as a commissioner to go far beyond writing to congressman about the landfill, also reportedly sending letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the FBI.
His plea change and potential plea agreement confirms what many reports have speculated since his indictment was announced Feb. 25: Mouton was a mere casualty of the widespread investigation into Jefferson Parish and the feds are using him to roll over on others involved.
A River Birch public relations consultant later told media outlets that Mouton had been on retainer for one of Heebe’s other companies for years before being appointed by former Gov. Mike Foster to the commission — and even after his term with the commission ended.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on any potential deals that may have been struck. Mouton’s attorney, well-known Baton Rouge lawyer Mary Olive Pierson, was unavailable for comment when contacted by The T-P
Read more on Mouton’s charges and background here