Aug 31, 2010 9:54 PM by Alison Haynes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge refused Tuesday to postpone a
sentencing hearing for Jeffrey Lehrmann, a former New Orleans
police detective who pleaded guilty to helping cover up a deadly
police shooting after Hurricane Katrina.
Justice Department lawyers had asked U.S. District Judge Lance
Africk to reconsider an earlier ruling and postpone Lehrmann's
Sept. 16 sentencing. Prosecutors want Lehrmann to be sentenced
after a trial for other current or former officers charged in the
deadly shooting of unarmed residents on the Danziger Bridge after
the 2005 storm.
The Justice Department says it can't full+valuate Lehrmann's
cooperation or recommend a more lenient punishment if he is
sentenced next month.
Africk, however, said prosecutors can seek a reduction in
Lehrmann's sentence after the trial. The judge also rejected the
government's argument that Lehrmann and other defendants who
already have pleaded guilty in the case may be dissuaded from
cooperating if they are sentenced as scheduled.
"Mr. Lehrmann's failure to abide by his plea agreement can
result in a voiding of the agreement as well as other adverse
consequences," he wrote.
Africk said part of the reason he doesn't want to delay
Lehrmann's sentencing is that the former detective knew about the
Danziger cover up for at least four years before he started
cooperating with the government.
"Now that the facts ... have come to light, no longer being
camouflaged and distorted by the defendant and others, the need to
address the gravity of such meretricioe Diimmoral and unlawful
conduct weighs heavily in favor of proceeding forward as
scheduled," he wrote.
Lehrmann faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison. His
attorney, Davidson Ehle III, and a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney
Jim Letten declined to comment on the judge's ruling.
On Sept. 4, 2005, police responding to an erroneous report that
an officer had been wounded on the bridge shot and killed two
people and wounded four others.
Lehrmann is one of five former officers who have pleaded guilty
to participating in a cover up that included phony witnesses,
falsified reports and a plot to plant a gun. Six other current or
former officers have been indicted in the case and await a trial,
possibly sometime next year.