St. Landry

Nov 19, 2013 3:57 PM by Ian Auzenne

Former school board member sentenced in bribery scandal

Former St. Landry Parish School John Miller will serve 10 months on house arrest and two years of probation for trying to sell his vote to a superintendent candidate.

Judge Richard Haik also order Miller to pay a $15,000 fine and undergo electronic monitoring.

On July 1, Miller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. In 2012, Miller and fellow school board member Quincy Richard sold their votes for superintendent to Joseph Cassimere. Cassimere, who at the time was interim superintendent of the St. Landry Parish School System, contacted the FBI. Agents busted Miller and Richard in a sting operation last September.

On August 20, Richard was convicted in connection with the scheme. His sentencing date has not been set.

Miller, who wore a charcoal grey suit, grey shirt, and multicolored striped tie, was joined by his brother and sister in the courtroom. Miller expressed remorse for his actions when addressing the court. Cassimere was also in court, as was Richard's attorney, Quincy Richard, Jr.

"From the very beginning, I took responsibility for my actions." Miller said. "I have spent many long days and sleepless nights in regret for my actions."

"I made a mistake."

Miller continued by taking a quote from Morgan Freeman in the movie THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. "'Sorry' is not strong enough of a word for what I feel," Miller said.

The prosecutor, Howard Parker, stated in court that Miller fully cooperated with federal investigators at all times and being truthful with investigators behind closed doors and on the witness stand.

"His testimony was consistent with private statements," Parker said. "He saw the light within 90 days. He came forward early and cut his losses."

Parker also said prosecutors never demanded that Miller leave office after his indictment and that Miller resigned his seat on the school board under his own volition.

Prior to handing down the sentence, Haik commended Miller for being forthright with federal officials, but he strongly condemned his actions.

"The United States is not the victim," Haik said. "That man sitting behind you (Cassimere) who stuck his neck out to do the right thing is the victim. You could have said, 'I'm sorry,' for costing you the position you've worked for your entire life."

Miller stated he had previously apologized to Cassimere and then apologized again in court. Cassimere accepted the apology with a handshake.

When handing down the sentence, Haik gave a simple explanation for not ordering Miller to serve jail time.

"It wouldn't do anybody any good," he said.

Haik closed the proceedings by lauding Cassimere, calling him a hero. Haik also said he wished he could give Cassimere restitution.

"I can't," Haik said, "but if I could, I would."

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