“Despite conviction, [Gaston Gerald] won a third senate term, then went off to jail.”

Pol in the Pen
June 8, 1981

There are limits to everything.

Louisiana never has been too fussy about politicians not showing up for work.  Huey Long missed U.S. Senate sessions for almost a year because he was home serving simultaneously as Governor.  Earl Long took leaves as Governor when his wife had him committed to mental institutions.  But few public servants can match State Senator Gaston Gerald, who kept drawing salary and expenses while in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.  He also put a former fellow inmate on the senate payroll, with no specified duties, at a salary of $919 a month.

Gerald was convicted in 1979 for attempting to extort money from a contractor who faced late charges for failing to complete the Baton Rouge Civic Center on time.  According to testimony, Gerald offered to distribute the money among members of the Baton Rouge city council.  Despite conviction, he won a third senate term, then went off to jail.  There he befriended Everett Bleichner, an insurance adjuster convicted of extortion.  Bleichner was released on Feb. 9, and Gerald made him a senate aide.  After years of never expelling anyone, the senate last week voted 33 to 3 to oust Gerald.

Copyright 1981, Time Inc.

Additional Reading
  • United States v. Gerald, 624 F.2d 1291, U.S. Court of Appeals (5th Circuit), August 25, 1980.

From: Time Magazine, June 8, 1981, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,922546,00.html, accessed 01/21/09.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.