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Louisiana mayor indicted, accused of taking bribes

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Louisiana mayor faces up to 65 years in prison
  • He's accused of accepting bribes

(CNN) -- The mayor of a small Louisiana town was indicted on several charges for allegedly accepting bribes from businesspeople, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Thomas A. Nelson Jr., 40, the mayor of New Roads, Louisiana, is charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Louisiana said in a statement. Nelson also is charged with wire fraud, using an interstate facility in aid of racketeering, making false statements to the FBI and forfeiture, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Nelson faces up to 65 years in prison and a $1.75 million fine, authorities said. His indictment came as part of an ongoing investigation known as "Operation Blighted Officials."

According to a superseding indictment, Nelson allegedly obtained "thousands of dollars in cash and other things of value, such as tickets to sporting events, luxury hotel rooms and meals from businesspeople in exchange for using his position as mayor for the benefit of the businesspeople in connection with transactions Nelson believed were worth millions of dollars," the statement said.

"The superseding indictment further alleges that Nelson deprived the citizens of New Roads of his honest services as mayor and lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation," authorities said.

New Roads is about 35 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. Its population was nearly 5,000 in the 2000 Census.