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. harold

    Your kind of Freedom for the USA . I suppose boys?.. Next time wear your brown shirts so we can spot you easier... and by the way.. you really like big private health insurance government with their big private health insurance premium TAXES and increases of 30-40% a year?.. Yes Private Health Insurance companies are a govenment. with all their rules and regulations yet you call that freedom?...The un-insured..... are Free.... really?

    March 26, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. lovable liberal

    And yet the kid who hacked Sarah Palin's obvious email password is still on trial for felonies.

    March 26, 2010 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. T'SAH from Virginia

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

    I guess they will be allowed to VOTE now – I guarantee you they will NOT be convicted as felons.... You see what MONEY buys??? If this person was of COLOR and/or not kids of RepubliCAN'T politicans – the felon charge would have STUCK!!!!!!

    Yep – "We're always fighting for JUSTICE – And I guess it's working!! Just look in all the prisons – All you see is – JUST US!!!

    March 26, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  4. CJ in New Orleans

    This boy has never worked an honest day in his life. Other dishonest people in the GOP are simply using him as an attack dog/scape goat.

    March 26, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. Fairfax Patriot

    If this had happened with 4 men who were Islamic, these same spoiled brats would have been screaming "Terrorism".

    So, this was just a Congressional office. I guess next they will try "journalistic investigation of weak security' of a nuclear weapons storage facility.

    March 26, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  6. Realist

    Throw the book at these petty criminals.

    March 26, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  7. Rahm

    So, the government can tap our phones and spy on us through the Patriot Act and we get in trouble for doing the same thing? Something is very wrong in this country......

    March 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    "The case also involves Robert Flanagan, the son of an acting U.S. attorney from Louisiana's Western District."

    His daddy must be soooo proud!

    March 26, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    James O'Keefe is such a creep!

    March 26, 2010 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. Republicans are Americas Taliban

    The charges should never have been decreased and all four should be looking at serving time for several years on felonies. This is why this type of behavior continues, they know charges will be negotiated lower and they will get off free.

    March 26, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. Brown

    Man, it must be great to have a father that is a U.S. Attorney. Political power . . . . if only the everyday citizen could have it.

    March 26, 2010 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. Blue

    He just happen to be the son of a republican district attorney. He will walk with a pat on the back, and he will back to his dirty tricks. That is all that they know how to do.

    March 26, 2010 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  13. Me

    If we could only get every criminal to film their escapades and post them on FOX, crime prevention would be so much cheaper!

    March 26, 2010 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  14. Greg Schneider

    They need to do the time in jail. If they do not receive the harshest punishment, we will have other clowns that try similar stunts in federal buildings, or in the offices of GOP Senators and Representatives.

    Pretending to be a journalist does not give you license to break the law. The need to be held accountable for what they did.

    March 26, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Dan

    Priveleged white guys with powereful fathers get charges reduced. It's good to see the Republicans are sticking so closely with what they know best.

    March 27, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  16. Rebecca in SC

    This would not have happened had the perps been poor (and especially had they been black) instead of being children of rich folks, including an assistant district attorney (a colleague of the person who reduced the charges). The maximum sentence, for such people, does not even amount to a slap on the wrist. Disgusting.

    March 27, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  17. Dan - California

    It is very important to prosecute these individuals to the full extent of the law under the Patriot Act.

    These individuals acted with malice towards an elected official and it shouldn't matter who they know.

    It is very dangerous to minimize their behavior, especially during this time, when many people are acting without thinking.

    March 27, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  18. RightnWrong

    I wonder if these Reduced charges have anything to do with the fact that one of his co-conspirators father is a US attorney? The fact that these people aren't being charged with a felony is sickening

    March 27, 2010 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  19. Anonymous

    I shouldn't be surprised. This entitled and well connected kid attempts espionage of a US Senator, and some backroom deals lets him off with a slap on the wrist.

    March 27, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  20. Tom B

    Sure helps to have Daddy being the US district attorney in the other part of Louisiana – doesn't it?

    March 27, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  21. jonny

    this is absolutely absurd. the feds are punishing the wrong people.

    March 27, 2010 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  22. John Smith

    Bull crap, everyone saw this video this is people sticking up for the right of people. Plain and simple.

    March 27, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  23. John

    Typical Injustice. White, rich, daddy's boys get off the hook basically. If it were black activists pulling this at a republican office they would already have their felony prosecution and be in jail by now...

    March 27, 2010 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  24. Ted

    Why reduce charges? What if they were terrorists or spys? They should be charged with felonies and put away for a while. Maybe then people will get the point you can't breach security in a federal office and walk away. This wrist slap is not zero tolerance.

    March 27, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  25. Jean V

    Throw the book at them. They're vicious liars and deserve to be taught a lesson. They're not investigative reporters, they're vile little cretins who think that they should be able to lie, edit their videos to intentionally deceive people, manipulate the public and our politics with their lies, hurt people, frighten people for no reason and get off with a hand slap. I beg to differ. What they have done is the work of vandals and lying propagandists, not reporters.

    March 27, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
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