"The sentence sends the wrong message to those who would bilk others and the taxpayers of the country through white-collar crime."
--The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.)
Reggie Sentence Was Miscarriage
Lafayette, LA October 13, 1993
When former Crowley City Judge Edmund Reggie was sentenced to 120 days house detention and fined $30,000 for misapplication of the funds of a failed savings and loan, we did not comment despite the seeming laxity of the sentence.
But Reggie has now attempted to use his friendship and influence with Gov. Edwin Edwards to aid a pay telephone company he represents.
What does the company want? It wants to change its contract with the state so it can soak the families and friends of inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary with higher toll charges - much higher than are allowed in the contract.
To his credit, Gov. Edwards said "no deal" to the request from his old pal. He shouldn't have been placed in the position of having to say "no" to the request.
Judge Reggie attempted to trade on his influence. We find that reprehensible.
Reggie has also contacted the Louisiana Public Service Commission on behalf of the company, asking it to rescind an order that placed a cap on the rates the company could charge for calls placed from the prison.
It is somewhat incongruous that the people who would have been hurt if Reggie had been successful are people with whom Reggie should feel some kinship - fellow convicted felons and their families and friends.
Reggie may consider himself above those who are serving "hard time" for their crimes, but we do not.
Reggie was found guilty by a jury of one count of misapplication of funds of Acadia Savings and Loan of Crowley when he was board chairman.
After a new U.S. attorney took over the cases, Reggie got rid of 11 counts of the 13-count indictment against him by pleading no contest to one additional count. He had been found innocent on one count.
The U.S. attorney who originally handled the case, Joe Cage, said he would not have accepted that plea agreement. He noted that the dismissed charges included two counts that alleged Reggie pocketed $400,000 in loan proceeds, and said those were the strongest case against Reggie.
In sentencing Reggie, U.S. District Judge John Shaw said Reggie did not personally pocket any money from the transactions involved in the charge on which he was found guilty and the charge to which he pleaded no contest, and that his actions did not involve a matter of "public trust."
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation asked the judge to require restitution of $5.1 million, arguing that Reggie's net worth exceeded $18 million.
Defense attorneys said that estimate was from 1984, and his net worth was now only $103,829.
The FDIC said in a letter to the court that the two transactions involved were "only a small part of the far greater price the American taxpayers have paid as a result of the failure of Acadia."
The total maximum penalty Reggie could have received on the two misapplication charges was 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
We didn't comment earlier on the sentence handed down by Judge Shaw because it somehow seemed like beating a dead horse.
But Reggie's recent actions for the pay phone company indicate the horse is quite alive and still kicking.
So we'll say it now. The sentence sends the wrong message to those who would bilk others and the taxpayers of the country through white-collar crime.
Reggie begins his 120-day home incarceration sentence Friday. He should be thankful that he's serving that third of a year at home, and not in the federal equivalent of Angola.
Copyright 1993, The Advocate,
Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.
From: The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 13, 1993. Page: 8-B, Section: EDITORIAL. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.