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Cantrell distances herself from ex-con Derrick Shepherd after he shows up at meeting

Mayor-elect says former state lawmaker will not have role in her administration

NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell on Saturday night sought to distance herself from a former state lawmaker and ex-convict after he showed up to a recent meeting between her and current legislators.

Cantrell issued a statement saying Derrick Shepherd did not attend the meeting with her, nor did she invite him.

“His presence at the meeting was solely of his own accord,” Cantrell said in the statement. “Shepherd does not now nor will he ever have any role in my transition or in my future administration.”

That response came after The New Orleans Advocate published a story in Saturday's paper in which current lawmakers expressed concern that Shepherd was at the meeting.

Cantrell said she set up the meeting, held at a local church, “to begin the process of creating an open dialogue between our incoming administration and our delegation so that we can start working closely together to advance the needs of our people and our city.”

Shepherd was once seen as a rising political star. But he resigned his state Senate seat and pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery in late 2008. In addition to those charges, he has faced multiple allegations of domestic violence from at least two women.

When The Advocate asked Shepherd before Saturday about whether he would play a role in Cantrell's administration, he responded, “I defer all question to Madam Mayor-elect.”

In her statement, Cantrell sought to reassure her constituents he will not have any place in her administration.

“The voters of our city have placed their trust in me and I want to assure you that I will honor that trust both in my transition and upcoming administration,” Cantrell said in her statement.

New Orleans Advocate staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.