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14 people face charges linked to OPP inmate videos

24th June 2013   ·   0 Comments

Authorities have identified and charged the inmates in controversial videos that show them playing with a loaded gun, doing drugs, gambling and drinking beer inside Orleans Parish Prison.

The videos, which were played in federal court during a hearing about the OPP consent decree, received national media attention and led to a very public war of words between the mayor and Orleans Parish sheriff.

A law enforcement source told FOX 8 News that a major indictment was handed up Thursday by an Orleans Parish grand jury against 14 people identified in the video.

Arthur Johnson is reportedly among those charged in the nine-count indictment. One video shows Johnson claiming that, while serving time, he got out of jail and went to Bourbon Street for a night out.

Johnson was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of contraband.

Other inmates named in the indictment face charges of contraband, which included drugs, money, beer and cell phones illegally smuggled into the jail.

Orleans Parish Prison is at the root of a conflict between New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman over a federally mandated consent decree aimed at providing major improvements to the Orleans Parish jail. The Landrieu administration has filed papers in federal court asking the federal government to seize control of OPP to ensure that OPP reforms are properly implemented and criticized what he described as Gusman’s ineffective management of the facility. Gusman has countered by saying that Orleans Parish Prison has been severely underfunded for years and that City Hall’s refusal to give him what he needs to improve the jail are at the root of OPP’s problems.

Sheriff Gusman said at a press conference last month that his administration conducted an investigation after the videos surfaced several years ago but concluded that there was not evidence to file charges against the inmates who appear in the video. The section of the prison where the video was reportedly shot was closed in 2010, Gusman also told reporters.

A federal judge has not yet ruled on Mayor Landrieu’s court brief asking for federal oversight or receivership of OPP reforms. Landrieu has reportedly also sought to reduce the cost of OPP reforms by making adjustments to the changes scheduled to be made to Orleans Parish Prison.

This article originally published in the June 24, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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