NEW ORLEANS – A local businessman who pled guilty to bribing a former Plaquemines Parish sheriff in exchange for a contract, has had his sentence delayed yet again.
Aaron Bennett, former owner and founder of local contractor Benetech, has also accepted responsibility for bribing New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin with a free plane ride to Chicago and Las Vegas, and his sentencing in the Plaquemines matter has been pushed back several times until after the Nagin trial.
Bennett was being transported from a jail in Amite to his hearing at federal court in New Orleans, but he did not arrive in time for the formal sentencing and was more than two hours late when U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval decided to continue the sentencing to March 12.
Bennett was mentioned often in the Nagin trial but he did not take the stand, nor was he ever charged in connection with any dealings with Nagin. Prosecutors, however, listed Bennett's dealings with Nagin as a part of the conspiracy count against the former mayor, and Bennett provided enough evidence and cooperation in the Nagin case to get the government to recommend a lighter sentence.
Bennett's help obviously paid off. Nagin was convicted by a jury on 20 of 21 counts earlier this month.
Bennett pled guilty to two counts in the Plaquemines matter: one conspiracy count and one bribery count for $10,000 cash he delivered in a bag to then-Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle while Hingle was wearing a wire.
In exchange for a series of payments to Hingle, Bennett got a huge contract with the sheriff's office managing construction of the Plaquemines Parish temporary jail. And immediately after arranging the Nagin trip to Chicago and Las Vegas, Bennett got hired as a no-bid passthrough vendor in the New Orleans technology office.