Edwards Guilty of Fraud
By Ken Ringle
May 10, 2000; Page A01
Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards, 72, the honey-tongued bad boy
politics who flirted with corruption charges through four terms in
governor's office, was convicted yesterday on 17 racketeering and
that could send him to jail for the rest of his life.
verdicts came two weeks after the start of deliberations in a
in Baton Rouge, the state capital where Edwards often appeared to
the past 30 years like a charmed prince. He once implored voters
him to office "or there won't be anything left to
The charges grew out of a complex scheme whereby Edwards, his son
associates allegedly extorted money from individuals seeking
in Louisiana's mushrooming gambling industry. The alleged actions
place during his final term as governor and after he left office
His son Stephen was convicted of 18 counts of racketeering and
Edwards was acquitted on nine of the charges against him, which
extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud as well as racketeering.
regret that it ended this way, but that is the system," he
court, according to the Associated Press. "I have lived 72
years in the
and I will live the rest of my life in the system."
convictions end perhaps the longest and most flamboyant political
a state whose politics, writer A.J. Liebling once suggested, often
have more in common with a Mediterranean country than with the
has been the subject of nearly two dozen federal investigations
back to his days as a congressman in the 1960s. But he had never
until yesterday, and often declared that Louisianans would
to return him to office unless he was "found in bed with a
or a live boy."
as his recent trial was hearing testimony of migrating grocery
bills, payoffs tossed in trash dumpsters and thousands stashed in
under the frozen ducks, Louisianans were voicing affection for the
chief executive many continued to view as a harmless and lovable
even by his opponents as a masterful chief executive with
knowledge of the Louisiana government, the silver-haired Edwards
often delighted Pelican State voters by thumbing his nose at
this trial was different. Federal prosecutors unreeled hours of
and office conversations detailing payoff and money-laundering
that Edwards sought unsuccessfully to portray as harmless efforts
his role as a legitimate if controversial consultant to casino
star witness against him was former San Francisco 49ers owner
Jr., who testified that Edwards demanded and received a $400,000
payoff as a condition for seeing that DeBartolo's casino license
sped to approval.
Edwards faces another trial next month on federal charges that he
generous deal four years ago for the head of an insurance company
by the state. He also faces charges of attempting to secretly
conversations by federal agents investigating him. No trial date
set in that case.
involved in the trial could not discuss details of the case
a gag order that U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola imposed. The
to continue at least through today, after a hearing to determine
defendants convicted would have to forfeit cash or property they
attorneys said they will ask that a mistrial be declared because
saw a written transcript of recorded conversations in which
improperly underlined. A further complication could stem from the
removal during deliberations of one juror he said was failing to
instructions to the jury.
of Edwards's associates--former aide Andrew Martin, cattleman
and contractor Bobby Johnson--had been designated as "bag
men" in the extortion scheme. Brown and Martin were convicted
against them, Johnson on nine. Two others indicted in the scheme,
Sen. Greg Tarver and state gambling board member Ecotrie Fuller,
though he affected a posture of jauntiness throughout the trial,
appeared at other times as if he knew the long game was finally
yesterday's verdict, he told the Associated Press he was reminded
saying: If you sit by a river long enough, the dead bodies of your
will float by you.
suppose the feds sat by the river long enough," he said.
"And here comes