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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 19:02

Ex-Louisiana, New Orleans, Official, Gill Pratt More Looting For Jefferson Clan, Than Leading

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Jeff Crouere--Louisiana PoliticsThe racketeering trial of former State Representative Renee Gill Pratt is another embarrassing episode for the people of Louisiana. Gill Pratt served in the legislature and city council for 15 years, using her time in office to enrich herself instead of helping the community.

While claiming to be a public servant, Pratt was really doing the bidding of the Jefferson family and especially her boyfriend, Mose Jefferson. Prosecutors assert that Gill Pratt laundered money and was instrumental in securing state and city money for phony Jefferson family charities. Instead of directing money to worthwhile organizations, Gill Pratt worked aggressively to funnel money to corrupt enterprises.

On the stand yesterday, former Orleans Parish Assessor Betty Jefferson, a prosecution witness, confessed to looting several charities in cooperation with Gill Pratt. She has admitted to a variety of crimes including money laundering and tax evasion. Jefferson and her daughter Angela Coleman said that Gill Pratt knew the type of sham that was being performed.

Gill Pratt had an office in a New Orleans building owned by the Jefferson family. Prosecutors allege that the building served as the headquarters for a “criminal enterprise.” Supposedly, young people were being mentored by the Project Chance charity, housed in the building, located on South Saratoga Street. However, Betty Jefferson acknowledged that no charitable work was done and Gill Pratt could clearly see it was an illegal scam.

Prosecutors also assert that Gill Pratt improperly used vehicles in her role at another bogus charity, Care Unlimited. These vehicles were donated to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Instead of utilizing them to help the community, Gill Pratt appropriated one of the vehicles for her personal use and distributed the others to cohorts such as her boyfriend Mose Jefferson for whom she seemed to work non-stop.

According to prosecutors, Gill Pratt secured $300,000 in state funds for two private schools to purchase educational software. Mose Jefferson worked as a consultant for the software company and received a handsome $30,000 fee. He shared it with Gill Pratt, who made $3,500 for arranging the transaction. Her corruption was so pervasive that Gill Pratt is also accused of misdirecting public funds towards her dues in the carnival organization Muses.

The damming accusations paint a picture of a very corrupt politician, who was taking advantage of her position to enrich herself and her close associates in the Jefferson family.

For fifteen years, voters re-elected a woman who was more interested in looting than in leading. Gill Pratt was a useful tool for the Jefferson family, but she was not much use to her constituents.

This case of political corruption is all too familiar to the people of Louisiana. The stench that results from this type of behavior is one of major reasons why businesses will not expand or re-locate in Louisiana.

Gill Pratt and other corrupt politicians have done tremendous harm to our state’s image, thereby limiting the ability of our business community to grow.

While claiming to help poor people, Gill Pratt actually helped produce more poor people because of her self indulgent actions.

The sad part is that Gill Pratt represented people in tremendous need, facing poverty, crime and blight. Instead of helping the underprivileged, she helped steer public money to corrupt Jefferson family enterprises, which did no real work of value.

Until Louisiana voters stop electing corrupt politicians like Renee Gill Pratt who misuse their position and scarce public funds, our state will never move forward and will instead remain mired in the poisonous pit of politics as usual.

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at E-mail him at [email protected].

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