March 26th, 2010
08:14 PM ET
4 years ago

Charges reduced in Landrieu phone incident

Conservative activist James O'Keefe is one of four men now charged with a misdemeanor for entering Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in Louisiana.
Conservative activist James O'Keefe is one of four men now charged with a misdemeanor for entering Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in Louisiana.

Washington (CNN) – Prosecutors have reduced the charges against four men accused of trying to access the phone system in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana.

The case involves James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who played a pimp in videos that later embarassed ACORN, the community organizing group now in the process of shuttering its operations. The case also involves Robert Flanagan, the son of an acting U.S. attorney from Louisiana's Western District.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Louisiana said Friday that O'Keefe, Flanagan and the two other associates are now charged with entering federal property under false pretenses, a misdemeanor.

The men were originally arrested on felony charges after they entered Landrieu's office, located inside a federal building, on Jan. 25.

Days before, according to a Bill of Information released by the Justice Department, the four men plotted ways to talk with members of Landrieu's staff inside her office, "and record the interaction using audio and visual equipment."

The statement adds that two of the men entered the senator's office dressed as telephone repairmen, told staffers they needed to work on the phone system, and pretended to test it. O'Keefe also entered the senator's office and recorded the interaction.

The office of Flanagan's lawyer, J. Garrison Jordan, said Jordan was out of the office. Attempts to reach lawyers for the other defendants were unsuccessful.

In a statement to CNN, Sen. Landrieu said, "It is clear that these four men deliberately deceived both building security and my staff by using phony identities to gain access to a federal building. Clearly they were up to no good."

Landrieu called the men's alleged actions "a blatant violation of the law that carries with it serious consequences."

O'Keefe has previously said he is not a criminal but an investigative journalist.

If convicted, O'Keefe and the three other men could each face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of $5,000, according to the Justice Department statement.

Editor’s note: The original story has been updated to reflect new language in the first sentence. The words “tamper with” have been struck and replaced with “access” to accurately describe the charges. The new sentence now reads: Washington (CNN) – Prosecutors have reduced the charges against four men accused of trying to access the phone system in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana.


Filed under: Extra • James O'Keefe • Louisiana • Mary Landrieu • Popular Posts
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Chandler

    It is amazing how few news outlets mention that it was recently discovered that Mr. O'Keefe was NOT DRESSED AS A PIMP WHEN HE WENT INTO ACORN. He edited the videos to make it appear that is how he dressed when he was in the office, but in reality he was dressed in a button up shirt and kakis...like a college student. I can't believe he was allowed to smear ACORN, with such little fact checking by the media.

    March 26, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  2. Charles

    What? No comments yet about how the charges were lowered because one of the arrested men was the son of an acting U.S. Attorney? Jut wait....the conspiracy nuts from the left and the right will try to spin this to their POV.

    March 26, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Average American

    The black panthers can intimidate voters, and not be charged. But, a real reporter trying to uncover a real news story, gets charged. Why were they doing cnn's job anyway? If people like this hero can't do it, who will???????

    March 26, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. John

    So, the conservatives who were sooooo upset about ACORN should be equally outraged about this.

    Right?

    March 26, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. redgraham

    The future of the Republican party, kinda resembles previous generation of the party.

    March 26, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. Adam

    Any true investigative journalist knows one doesn't go blatantly breaking the law in hopes of even finding a story to begin with.

    James O'Keefe, the word is "egotism," not "journalism."

    March 26, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. lie buster

    Now , why in the h-ll would they reduce charges for little scumbags who have been used to tarnish, embarass, and destroy Democratic officials and all things about Democrat.
    Now, I need them to be waterboarded and be asked who was behind these acts they carried out.

    March 26, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Bob

    The headline on the frontpage is maybe as misleading as O'Keefe is.

    March 26, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Gil

    Why? I think we know why!

    March 26, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. GOPBslapper

    So daddy the Republican Federal Attorney gets his son and his 3 friends off nearly scot free from what should be several Felony charges?
    Justice GOP Southern Style. Typical Scumbags of the South.

    March 26, 2010 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Bob True American

    Throw the book at them!

    March 26, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. marcus (seattle)

    it's ridiculous that lunatics on either side of the political spectrum get away with crimes like this.. these are exactly the people who should be charged to the max..

    March 26, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Dave L

    So if I tried to tap into a U.S. Senator's phone, wearing a disguise and using false ID, it would only be a misdemeanor for me? This looks like inside justice, Louisiana-style, for the local U.S. Attorney's son. Oh, by the way, these punks like to bait Black people. If Black guys with no connections had tried to pull this off, what do you think would have happened to them?

    March 26, 2010 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  14. JR

    Were the prosecutors republicans, that seems to be the bottom line now a days, if your a conservative your get preferential treatment.

    March 26, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  15. TonyH

    Clearly, the charges are being reduced for three of them because they had the good luck or foresight to involve the fourth – the son of an acting US Attorney. They couldn't reduce the charges for Flanagan alone, so now all get the benefit of patronage.

    While 'presumes innocent' still applies, they have admitted their actions, which are normally felonies. This seems a lot like old-fashioned New Orleans legal proceedings – in the worst way...

    March 26, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I'll tell you what's funny...any other reporter did this with a republican politician they would be proclaimed a hero.

    March 26, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. Charles W. Skinner

    Wow. That's a weak charge. They must not have ANYTHING to charge them with if they're already folding to the 'misdemeanor' of Entering under False Pretenses.

    March 26, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. ran

    Can you say cover up. When will our judicial system put the blinders back on and do their job of being impartial.

    Ever since the Gore v Bush Supreme Court decision our judicial system has steadily been going down.

    March 26, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. Bill from CA

    O'Keefe broke the law, so yes, that does make you a criminal.

    March 26, 2010 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. Alert the Media

    James, keep fighting to expose the truth.
    If not you, whom? And if not now, when?

    March 26, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. Pel

    Sound as if the judicial system of La is taking care of the politically connected. The Repug Right Wingers were not pulling a mere stunt. They were seeking blood against Senator Landrieu. I can assure you if they had discovered anything wrong, they would have tried to make political hay with it. They need to make little rocks harder and I am not talking about Little Rock, Arkansas. The right wingers have no fear of doing anything wrong. Now is the time to teach them a life lesson. Prison need to be their next address. Remember, they have a history of these type ventures. Also, O'keefe had stated publicly something big was in the making.

    March 26, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  22. Cara

    Seriously, James O'Keefe is a pimp. He's pimping for the Republican party. Other Rethug pimps: Limbaugh and Beck. I won't even tell you what Ann Coulter is. O'Keefe, you are a criminal. You are a disgusting little criminal who represents the entire criminal Tea Party/Rethug party.

    March 26, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  23. M J

    Let the crminals continue to undermine the political process and have the media and fellow conservs cheer them on. There won't be an America worth saving.

    March 26, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. Preston kathy

    Throw the keys away

    March 26, 2010 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. Black Viper

    If it was me the charges will never been reduced
    Talking about fair justice....My eye

    March 26, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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