St. Landry Parish School Board member pleads guilty to bribery conspiracy

$5,000 Received For Vote

LAFAYETTE – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that St. Landry Parish School Board member John Miller, 72, of Opelousas, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Miller admitted that he and fellow St. Landry Parish School Board member Quincy Richard Sr., 51, of Opelousas, conspired to receive bribe money from school board superintendent candidate Joseph Cassimere in return for their support. During July, August and September of 2012, Miller admitted that he and Richard had a number of private meetings with Cassimere where they negotiated price and payment from Cassimere in exchange for their favorable individual votes as school board members in support of Cassimere’s candidacy for superintendent. At the same time the screening process for the superintendent position was ongoing and by the week of Sept. 16, 2012, five applicants had been publicly named. The final vote was scheduled for Sept. 26, 2012.

The defendants met with Cassimere on Sept. 24, 2012 at the Quarters Restaurant in Opelousas and received $5,000 each in return for their votes. They made it clear that Cassimere had also secured their services, efforts, influence and due diligence to secure the votes of other members of the school board for Cassimere’s candidacy. Richard added that Cassimere could also recoup his $10,000 bribe by adding that amount to his salary request. Miller instructed Cassimere on how to make and justify a meritorious

salary request above the amount listed for the superintendent’s salary as advertised. This conversation of Sept. 24, 2012 had been under video and audio surveillance. After the defendants exited the restaurant, they were confronted by authorities who recovered the $5,000 payments. Miller was indicted on Oct. 24, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Finley stated, “This is a positive first step for the School Board to move forward so they can take care of the educational work that needs to be addressed for the children and citizens of this community.”

Miller faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bribery. A sentencing date has not been set.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alexandria Resident Agency, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard C. Parker is prosecuting the case.

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