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Story Archives: Eddie the rat
|Eddie the rat|
What do Salvatore "Sammy The Bull" Gravano and Monroe businessman Eddie Hakim have in common?
They both turned on so-called "friends" and became government witnesses in high-profile racketeering and corruption cases, properly known as RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The Congress approved the RICO Act in 1970 to give U.S. attorneys a tougher tool to prosecute organized crime figures. In time, prosecutors discovered they could employ RICO to nab public officials who ran afoul of the law.
It's really unfair to compare Hakim to Gravano. After all, Gravano was a trusted sidekick to organized crime boss John Gotti. Gravano turned on Gotti some 20 years ago and testified for the government once Gravano was informed he faced life in prison, or worse, for carrying out "hits," or murders, for Gotti, who was the boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City.
Based largely on Gravano's testimony, Gotti was convicted and received a life sentence. He died in prison. Gravano went to prison, too, but for a short stay.
According to testimony in U.S. District Court in Monroe over the past couple of weeks, Hakim bribed Monroe City Councilmen Arthur Gilmore and Red Stevens from 2006-2009. Hakim bribed them to receive favorable treatment for economic development projects advocated, or owned, by Hakim. The bribes totaled less than $8,000. In other words, Gilmore and Stevens sold out on the cheap.
Apparently, Hakim began bribing Gilmore and Stevens through John Maroney, an engineer who worked for the City of Monroe and Hakim as well. Maroney wasn't around to dispute anything Hakim or the defendants said during trial. He died a couple of years ago. How convenient.
After Maroney died, Hakim supposedly began bribing Gilmore and Stevens directly. Hakim said he grew tired of having to pay off the councilmen and turned to Louisiana State Police for help. State Police referred Hakim to the FBI, which, of course, alerted the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of Louisiana.
The feds wired Hakim who captured the councilmen on audio and video recordings. Juicy stuff if you're interested in listening to or watching a highly successful businessman work hand in hand with the government to pinch a couple of black public officials who should have known that if you play with fire long enough, you eventually will get burned. They got burned, alright.
Gilmore and Stevens never denied they accepted money from Hakim. Hakim openly acknowledged he paid them. Moreover, Stevens said Hakim was a friend, and he considered the money Hakim gave him as gifts from a friend.
The jury didn't buy it. Instead, jurors took about three hours Tuesday to decide Gilmore and Stevens were guilty of bribery and racketeering.
U.S. District Court Judge Robbie James is scheduled to sentence Gilmore and Stevens in August. They each face up to $500,000 in fines as well as up to 40 years in prison.
James most likely will give Gilmore and Stevens the minimum amount of time behind bars as he can, but the judge's hands are tied to some degree because federal sentencing guidelines require James to order Gilmore and Stevens to spend at least some time in the clink.
It's no laughing matter when public officials are convicted for violating the trust the voters placed in them when they elected to them to public office. It's almost laughable, though, that two men are headed to prison for accepting penny-ante bribes from a multi-millionaire who apparently has been given a pass for bribing public officials.
And that raises a question.
Are the feds going to prosecute Hakim for bribery?