Danziger Defendants Receive Long Sentences!!!
The infamous Danziger Bridge debacle moved toward closure yesterday with the sentencing of most defendants. The decades long incarceration ordered by the judge told the families who lost loved ones or suffered very serious injuries on the bridge that the government meant business when the police go lawless, regardless if their world is collapsing. Victims’ families gain major resolution when the perpetrators get locked up for decades.
Turns out their world was turned upside down as the levees failed and New Orleans was flooded. To escape the water, many families tried crossing bridges on foot, and many were turned back. On the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005, four days after Katrina hit and three days after the levees failed, the Bartholomew family did far worse than turning back NOPD opened fire with five injured and one dead, while the Madison family suffered one dead.
Four former New Orleans Police Officers- Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Gisevius received decades each, from 38 to 65 years. Former NOPD Officer Arthur Kaufman received six years for helping the prosecution in a major way win their case against the other former officers.
The Danziger Bridge case began almost seven years ago and has been the poster child case for the New Orleans Police Department’s worst acts of depravity and corruption. It took our remarkable current US Attorney Jim Letten to put together the successful case when the NOPD, State Police, and other US Attorneys were unable to.
US District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said he was uncomfortable with the prosecution’s use of cooperating witnesses who participated in the scheme but then confessed and were rewarded with relatively light sentences.
Before imposing the sentences, Engelhardt delivered a two-hour tirade in which he railed against the government’s handling of the case and noted that because of mandatory sentencing minimums, he was hamstrung in determining the penalties. He said he was especially uncomfortable with the prosecution’s use of cooperating witnesses who participated in the scheme but then confessed and were rewarded with comparatively lenient sentences.
“Using liars to convict liars is no way to pursue justice,” he said. Later, he added that citing witnesses for perjury “at this trial would be like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.”
My question to Judge Engelhardt is how, years after the crimes are committed, how do you convict the bad guys without turning someone who participated and knows what happened? You don’t. That is one of Jim Letten’s ‘secrets’. He is truly the master at turning key participants to catch all the other fish in the net.