New U.S. judge accused of illegal favor to inmate
GRETNA U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous, while serving his final weeks on the state bench in Jefferson Parish, illegally amended a convicted drug offender's burglary sentence and then removed it from the man's record, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Porteous, a judge in the 24th Judicial District for 10 years, said Aubrey Wallace, 35, of Marrero deserved a "break."
The judge said he has known the fired Jefferson Parish deputy for years and believed Wallace could turn his life around.
Wallace had told the judge he wanted the expungement so one day he could be a bail bondsman, a
State law forbids a judge to alter a sentence once it has been issued.
Porteous amended Wallace's sentence in September, and then expunged the burglary conviction just two weeks before he was appointed to the federal bench in October, apparently after his FBI and other federal background checks were completed.
Both the state and federal agencies that receive complaints against judges say they lack the jurisdiction to investigate this one because of Porteous' job change.
Meanwhile, the crime commission, a citizen's watchdog group that investigated the matter, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department. U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan said he will not comment until he has seen the complaint.
The crime commission investigation found:
On June 26, 1990, Wallace pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced by Porteous to a
Less than two years later, on Dec. 11, 1991, Porteous at the request of probation officials, declared Wallace's probation "terminated unsatisfactorily" because he couldn't complete his probation: he was in prison on an unrelated drug conviction.
On Sept. 22, 1994, Porteous, at Wallace's request, removed the unsatisfactory probation from his criminal record and retroactively changed his original guilty plea to a special plea that allows a criminal record to be expunged once probation is successfully terminated.
On Oct. 14, 1994, two weeks before he was sworn in as a federal judge, Porteous expunged Wallace's burglary conviction.
"The judge had no authority to do what he did," said Rafael Goyeneche, the crime commission's managing director. "This shows the good ol' boy network is alive and well."
At the time Porteous expunged the burglary conviction, Wallace still was on parole for a narcotics conviction. He pleaded guilty Feb. 26, 1991, to possession of more than 28 grams of cocaine and possession of PCP and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Copyright 1995, Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.
From: The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., March 20, 1995, City Desk,