NEW ORLEANS -- Former city vendor Mark St. Pierre was so defiant at his corruption trial a year ago that a federal judge threw the book at him and handed down a 17 1/2 year prison sentence.
St. Pierre was convicted of bribing members of former Mayor Ray Nagin's administration. But now, sources tell Eyewitness News that he's negotiating with prosecutors to change his tune and possibly testify against Nagin in a case being built by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office.
Sources close to St. Pierre and the Nagin probe tell us the former technology firm owner hopes to get his sentence reduced in exchange for testimony against the ex-mayor. If St. Pierre is really willing to admit his crimes, he could have key information about trips, parties and home care he provided for Nagin.
So he can better help prosecutors, St. Pierre was transferred from a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, to a state lockup in St. Charles Parish.
The U.S. marshals confirmed today that they have him here in the New Orleans area. And a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the marshals transferred him out of Texas back on April 19.
Nagin used an executive order to grant his technology chief, Greg Meffert, special authority to hire vendors for no-bid work at City Hall. Meffert used that authority to give St. Pierre more than $4 million in such work.
Documents and testimony at St. Pierre's trial showed he provided a yacht for a Nagin campaign party, yard work at Nagin's house and a credit card tha Meffert charged to fly Nagin and his family on exotic vacations to Hawaii and Jamaica and on a campaign trip to Chicago. In Chicago, St. Pierre hosted a campaign party and raised money for Nagin’s reelection.
Nagin has always said that he believed Meffert, his employee, was paying for those freebies, not a city vendor. At St. Pierre’s trial, Meffert testified that he never told the mayor that St. Pierre had paid for the Hawaii trip in December 2004.
Also at the trial, a September 2006 letter from St. Pierre to Nagin explained that Meffert didn’t own the “Silicon Bayou” yacht that had been used for the campaign celebration, seemingly confirming that the mayor didn’t know the vendor was paying.
But St. Pierre could make a serious dent in that defense if he says that Nagin knew where the gratuities were coming from before the truth came out.
Also, Meffert recently filed an affidavit in a civil case in Baton Rouge stating that Nagin went to Chicago in January 2007, six months after Meffert left City Hall, to help Meffert land government contracts there. St. Pierre was paying Meffert as a consultant at the time and have additional information about that.
St. Pierre's attorney Eddie Castaing declined to comment.
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