The Kenner, La., businessman accused of bribing former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard has pleaded not guilty in federal court in New Orleans.
Bill Mack entered the plea to conspiring to bribe Broussard during his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles III.
The charges against Mack grew out of a wide-ranging federal investigation that toppled the Broussard administration in 2010. Broussard faces 27 counts and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson 22 counts. Trial is set for Oct. 1. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Broussard’s former chief administrative officer, Tim Whitmer, previously pleaded guilty to covering up corruption in the local government.
Whitmer and Broussard both were embroiled in controversy related to allegations that Whitmer’s insurance agency, Lagniappe Industries, improperly participated in deals with local government and companies that held parish contracts.
The Times-Picayune reports Knowles set Mack’s trial for Oct. 9 before U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown. But that could change. Prosecutors charged Mack last week in a bill of information instead of seeking a grand jury indictment, often an indication that a defendant has already agreed with the government to plead guilty and testify against others.
Mack, 63, president and owner of First Communications Co., allegedly paid Broussard roughly $66,000 during his time in office in exchange for steering about $40,000 in parish work to Mack’s company, an indictment shows. Broussard also allegedly tried to steer work with private vendors to Mack’s company.
Mack made approximately 41 separate payoffs and kickbacks to Broussard between January 2004 and November 2007, according to the indictment. Broussard allegedly tried to conceal the payoffs by claiming they were payments for legal services.
Broussard’s ex-wife, Karen Parker, also has pleaded guilty to hiding a payroll fraud conspiracy related to her job in the Broussard administration.
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