NEW ORLEANS -- A federal appeals court has tossed out the sentence of a former NOPD commander convicted in a security kickback scheme.
The conviction of former Capt. Michael Roussel still stands, though, and he will be sent back to U.S. District Court for resentencing, an appeals court panel ruled this week.
The veteran cop was sentenced two years ago to 11 years in federal prison for helping arrange an inflated security contract between a Texas security firm and local utility giant Entergy.
The appeals court found that the district court made mistakes in sentencing Roussel.
The appeals court ruled that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier incorrectly determined that Roussel committed more than one bribe. The judge also was wrong in calculating how much Roussel and others would net in the scam.
The appeals court concurred with Roussel that only one bribe – a $1,000 “good faith” payment to an FBI cooperator – took place. The incorrect sentencing guidelines called for a 20 to 25 year sentence. Barbier ultimately went below the guidelines and issued a sentence of slightly more than 11 years.
Though he issued a lenient sentence, it was based on the improper guidelines, and Roussel should be resentenced, according to the appeals court.
A jury convicted Roussel in April 2011 on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and two counts of wire fraud.
The scheme centered on an a bloated security deal that would allow for kickbacks to Roussel and Louis Dabdoub, an Entergy security manager and a former NOPD captain.
However, Dabdoub, when approached with the scheme, tipped off the NOPD and federal investigators. He ended up working undercover for the feds and secretly taping phone calls and a meeting with Roussel and the security firm owner, Joseph Branch.
Branch reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He received a five-year prison sentence.