U.S. Attorney's Office
500 Poydras St
Eastern District of Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
FORMER ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISONMarch 11, 2010
ELLENESE BROOKS-SIMMS, age 71, a resident of New Orleans, was sentenced in federal court today by U. S. District Judge Martin L. C. Feldman to eighteen (18) months in federal prison for a federal felony involving fraud and kickbacks in the Orleans Parish school system, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten today. In addition, the defendant was ordered serve three (3) years supervised release during which time she will be under federal supervision and risks additional imprisonment should she violate any terms of the release.
The sentence of eighteen (18) months handled down today by Judge Feldman was the result of the Court's acknowledgment of a specific request by the Government for a lower sentence than normally would have been recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines. Specifically, while the sentencing guidelines would have recommended a sentence between 70 and 87 months, BROOKS-SIMMS faced an actual maximum prison term of 60 months provided for by law as a result of the conspiracy charge. Specifically outlining the Government's description of defendant BROOKS-SIMMS' extraordinary cooperation -- including immediate acknowledgment, acceptance of responsibility; assistance; the undercover recording of criminal conversations; testimony before the grand jury; and critical testimony at trial under direct and cross-examination directly resulting in Mose Jefferson's conviction and subsequent prison sentence -- the Government requested that the Court hand down a sentence of 18 months.
According to court documents, on June 20, 2007, BROOKS-SIMMS pled guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program fraud. She admitted that from 2001 thru 2004, while an elected member of the Orleans Parish School Board, she secretly conspired with Mose Jefferson, a local businessman, to approve the purchase of an educational software program for the Orleans Parish School System. Jefferson received over $900,000 of Orleans Parish School Board money as his sales commission for selling the software program to the school board. In exchange for her assistance in promoting and approving the software program, BROOKS-SIMMS received approximately $140,000 as a bribe/reward from the Jefferson. Both BROOKS-SIMMS and the Jefferson funneled these payoffs through several bank accounts to disguise their illegality. On August 21, 2009, Jefferson was convicted by a federal jury after a two week trial and has been sentenced to serve ten (10) years in federal prison.
Speaking to today's sentence, U. S. Attorney Jim Letten stated:
We hope that todays sentence, in which the Government recognized the value of timely, truthful and full cooperation and assistance by the defendant, sends an unambiguous and powerful recommendation to all individuals who have violated the law, that while criminal conduct will be dealt with severely under federal law, acceptance of responsibility and truthful assistance will be appropriately recognized.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution has been handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Salvador Perricone and Assistant U. S. Attorneys Richard Pickens and Michael Simpson.