Jan 13, 2011 11:18 AM

Edwin Edwards Leaves Halfway House With Family

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Former Gov. Edwin Edwards was released Thursday from federal prison and spent two hours at a Baton Rouge halfway house, before leaving with his daughter for an undisclosed location.
Edwards served eight years for a corruption conviction. The four-term former governor arrived in Baton Rouge at 7 a.m. after leaving the Oakdale prison.
Edwards went to prison in October 2002 on a 10-year sentence for a bribery and extortion scheme to rig Louisiana's riverboat casino licensing process during his final term in office. He has maintained his innocence.
Edwards, wearing a gray sweatshirt and cap, was brought to the halfway house by his daughter, Anna.
Asked it how it felt to be out of prison, Edwards said "I don't know yet." He refused to say anything else as he went inside.
Anna Edwards said she was ecstatic to have her father out of prison and in good health.
"He promised me eight years ago that he would walk out. He kept it. He walked out," she said.
Edwards left the halfway house about 9 a.m. with his daughter.
Edwards, 83, a Democrat, was convicted in a bribery and extortion scheme to rig the riverboat casino licensing process during his fourth and final term, which ended in 1996. He has maintained his innocence and blamed his conviction on former friends who he said turned against him and lied in their testimony and on misinterpreted, secretly taped conversations.
Known for his quick wit and easy charm, Edwards dominated Louisiana politics for decades and has continued to attract public interest though he's been out of elected office for 15 years. Even as he was serving prison time, speculation persisted about whether the former governor would weigh in on the state political scene when he emerged from jail.
He reported to prison in October 2002. While there, he divorced his second wife, Candy, and worked on an authorized biography of his nearly 50-year-long political career.
Edwards, a lifelong populist, won his first office in 1954, when he was elected to the city council in Crowley. He later moved to the Louisiana Legislature and Congress, before serving as governor for 16 years between 1972 and 1996.
A cunning politician, Edwards also had a reputation as a womanizer, a gambler - and a target of federal prosecutors.
By his own count, Edwards was the subject of two dozen investigations. He was acquitted on racketeering charges in the 1980s related to hospital and nursing home investments and on fraud charges in October 2000 related to the liquidation of a failed insurance company.
Edwards' son, Stephen, also was convicted in the casino corruption case and was released from a Texas prison in 2007.

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