A woman accused of paying kickbacks for insurance contracts to a former New Orleans school official pleaded guilty in federal court recently, the Associated Press reported.
Insurance broker Lillian T. Smith Haydel pleaded guilty to one count of extortion conspiracy in a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. She will be sentenced Jan. 12.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Carl Coleman, the school system’s former risk manager, sought bribes from Haydel, threatening her with a loss of system business if she did not pay him kickbacks for school system contracts.
Coleman allegedly received $20,000. Paying under threat did not spare her prosecution, Letten said.
“If you simply agree to pay bribes, you commit a federal offense,” Letten said.
Haydel is the wife of Glen Haydel, an investment banker and an uncle of former Mayor Marc Morial, now the head of the National Urban League.
“This case has nothing to do with her husband or with her husband’s nephew,” said her lawyer, John Reid.
Haydel’s business records were recently subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney’s office in a separate probe of contracts under the Morial administration.
Letten would not say whether the City Hall and school system investigations are connected.
“Sometimes these investigations intersect, sometimes they run parallel, sometimes they split,” he said.
He also declined to say whether Lillian Haydel is a cooperating witness. “Stay tuned and find out,” Letten said.
Coleman is awaiting sentencing in a separate case in which he admitted taking kickbacks on contracts awarded to repair damage caused to schools by three fires and a flood between October 2001 and January 2002.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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