NEW ORLEANS - Stacey Jackson, the former head of Ray Nagin’s post-Katrina house-gutting program, was charged with conspiracy, theft of public funds, soliciting a bribe and obstruction of justice Thursday.
The four felony counts against Jackson, the former executive director of New Orleans Affordable Homeownership, complete a five-year federal grand jury investigation.
The NOAH scandal rocked the Nagin administration in 2008 when WWL-TV confronted the mayor about homes the city paid to have gutted but were not. The grand jury now charges Jackson with paying contractors more than they were owed or for work they never did, then receiving kickbacks from them.
Federal investigators are right upon deadlines to charge Jackson, and the delay in getting the indictment could be an issue if the case goes to trial. The five contractors charged in the alleged conspiracy were all charged more than a year ago, and two substantive counts against Jackson happened on June 6, 2008, exactly five years before she was indicted.
“We are investigating whether the indictment was filed on time,” said Jackson’s attorney, Eddie Castaing. “The statute of limitations is going to be a very big issue in this indictment.”
The indictment accuses Jackson of theft of public funds for allegedly writing a check for almost $20,000 from a NOAH bank account to Excel Development Corp., and then receiving a portion of that money in the form of cash or other things of value from Excel’s owner. The indictment said that happened “between on or about May 26, 2008, and on or about June 6, 2008.”
That is also the basis for the charge of soliciting a bribe.
The obstruction of justice charge accuses Jackson of submitting “false and forged invoices of work purportedly done by NOAH contactors” to the grand jury in response to subpoenas.
The acts that comprise the alleged conspiracy are from more than five years ago, but that’s OK if the government can prove the conspiracy was continuing through June 2008.
First, the indictment alleges that Jackson paid contractor Earl Myers and asked him to give her the money. She is also accused of paying public money to Myers’ company so he could purchase a property for her on Bayou Road. And she allegedly used public funds to pay Myers to renovate her other personal properties.
She allegedly kept paying Myers’ different companies about $155,000 in 2007 and 2008 and instructed him to give portions of the money to people and entities Jackson was affiliated with.
She also is accused of paying Trellis Smith’s company Parish Dubuclet more than $15,000 in October 2008, and he allegedly transferred most of it right back to a bank account controlled by Jackson.
The indictment says Jackson and Smith went on to do similar overpayments and kickbacks through 2007.