New Orleans official accused in kickback scheme

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 3:12 PM

A member of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board has been indicted on charges he solicited kickbacks from companies with contracts to inspect damage from Hurricane Katrina.

A 33-count indictment handed up Friday by a federal grand jury claims Benjamin L. Edwards Sr. directed board work to a construction company, then demanded more than $750,000 in payoffs from the company to a church where he was a reverend.

Edwards also is accused of directing work to his brother, who secretly controlled a company that had a contract to inspect the board's water distribution system after the 2005 hurricane.

The Center Does Not Hold
Jonah Goldberg

Charges against Edwards include wire fraud, money laundering and extortion.

Edwards' attorney, Robert Jenkins, said he had not seen the indictment and declined immediate comment.