Covering Louisiana

Feb 17, 2011 8:13 PM by Alison Haynes

Jury in racketeering case to return Tuesday

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal jury will resume deliberating Tuesday in the trial for a former Louisiana lawmaker charged in a plot to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money earmarked for charitable and educational programs.
Jurors deliberated for more than nine hours Wednesday and Thursday without reaching a verdict in the racketeering conspiracy case against former state Rep. Renee Gill Pratt.
U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle said the jurors asked to return Tuesday. Fridays have been a day off for the jurors since the trial started earlier this month. Monday is a federal holiday.
Gill Pratt, a former member of the state House of Representatives and New Orleans city council, is charged with conspiring with relatives of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson to pocket money she helped them secure for groups that were supposed to be helping pregnant teens and at-risk youths. Prosecutors said little if any of the money was spent on the intended services.
Gill Pratt also is accused of misappropriating four vehicles that DaimlerChrysler had donated to the city after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Two of Jefferson's sisters and one of his nieces already have pleaded guilty in the case. Mose Jefferson, a brother of William Jefferson who dated Gill Pratt for 20 years, also is charged in the case but was excused from the trial because he is gravely ill with cancer.


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