Government rebuts Ladnerís collusion complaint
By Dwayne Bremer
Sep 20, 2013, 23:49
Officials at the United States Attorney's Office said this week that recent claims by former Hancock County Road Manager Roger Ladner--who is seeking to have his sentence vacated-- are false and that by pleading guilty, Ladner is precluded from asking the court to be released.
Ladner, 56, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison last December for his role in a "kickback" scheme that arose from ditch cleaning contracts after Hurricane Katrina.
He began serving his sentence in February.
According to court records, he is being held in a federal facility in Oakdale, La.
In June, he filed a motion to have his sentence vacated.
In the motion, Ladner says his attorney, Peter Barrett, did not bring up several key items which were important to his case and that members of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors were aware of what was going on during the ditch-cleaning contracts and encouraged him to do it.
"The defense counsel failed to argue that he (Ladner) had tried to quit the county prior to renting his equipment to various vendors," according to the motion. "The county authorities wouldn't let him and told him to go ahead and rent it out to people involved in the cleanup and it would all be just fine. The defense counsel failed to bring up the fact that the county attorney was the one who drafted the letter that the defendant signed telling FEMA he had no interest in the companies of his brothers. The truth is, the only thing the defendant did do was rent equipment to contractors that needed it. His supervisors told him to do it and that it would all be good. These are clearly mitigating factors that needed to be brought before the court that were not."
Additionally, Ladner said his attorney had a conflict of interest with the assistant U.S. Attorney; failed to argue important motions; and drew out the length of the case to collect more legal fees.
After Ladner filed his motion, U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden ordered Barrett and prosecutors to file a written response to the claims made in the motion.
This week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan filed a 17-page response on behalf of the government.
Last month, Barrett filed a similar response, denying all of Ladner's claims.
In the government's response, Morgan said Ladner had been informed of all the plea negations and that he "repeatedly swore under oath that he was satisfied" with his attorneys.
Morgan said Ladner has provided no evidence which would allow him to have another hearing.
"To receive a federal evidentiary hearing, the burden is on the petitioner to allege facts, which, if proven would provide him relief," Morgan said. "The court need not blindly accept speculative and concrete claims."
Ozerden has yet to rule on Ladner's motion.
He can either rule on the motion and responses filed or hold another hearing on the matter.
If Ozerden were to rule in Ladner's favor, his sentence could be reduced or he could be released, officials said.