Ex-Hancock County road manager appeals adverse ruling in federal case

The Associated PressJuly 13, 2014 

— A former Hancock County road department manager is appealing a Mississippi judge's refusal to throw out his conviction in a Hurricane Katrina kickback case.

Roger Ladner, the former road manager, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2012. Ladner also was ordered to pay $1.13 million in restitution. Ladner's wife and his two brothers were also conviction in the case.

In June, U.S. District Judge Halil Ozerden denied Ladner's request to vacate his sentence and to return part of the money Ladner forfeited to the government.

Ladner has filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Ladner had argued he was given bad advice by his attorney and did not fully understand what a plea deal entailed when he pleaded guilty in 2012.

Prosecutors said Ladner was given the authority to award millions of dollars in ditch-cleaning contracts after Katrina. He was accused of giving those contracts to companies controlled by him or relatives.

Ladner was indicted in December 2011 on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribery after a lengthy FBI investigation that determined he funneled Federal Emergency Management Agency money for Hurricane Katrina cleanup contracts into accounts he and his wife controlled.

An affidavit filed in the case said Ladner approved 56 contracts for ditch cleaning in the county at a cost of about $7.3 million.

Ladner's attorneys argued he had no legal authority to award the contracts and therefore should not have been charged in the case. But prosecutors said the county board of supervisors authorized Roger Ladner to award contracts.

Ladner's wife, Sharon, was sentenced to two years. His brother, Billy Wayne Ladner, got just over three years. Another brother, Donald Ladner, was sentenced to six months in prison.

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