March 27th, 2010
09:59 AM 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: James O'Keefe • Louisiana • Mary Landrieu
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. MS

    Why is it that everytime I see this kid, he looks like, and reminds me of Lee Harvey Oswald?

    March 27, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Josh B

    Please put these political terrorists in jail for six months.

    Please.

    March 27, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Larry

    Once again we find justice is for the well-connected. These little 2-bit punks ought to be doing some jail time and now I see they will get off with a slap on the wrist.Investigative journalist my behind. Everybody knows he is a republican tool and who he is connected to. Same old republican dirty tricks

    March 27, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Tom B

    Very useful to have a dad as a US District Attorney when you get caught committing a felony – as all of a sudden, it's a misdemeanor...

    March 27, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Rush Limbaugh sponsors violence

    This punk should be in prison.

    March 27, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. mrrationalhbg

    Hey look everybody, we can all wire tap government officials offices and we'll only get a misdemeanor. Great!

    March 27, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. True American

    O'Keefe and his cohorts deserve prison time for their crimes of busting in to a Congressional Office and attempting to access the telephone closet to disrupt service. That is domestic terrorism. May they receive the maximum penalty!

    March 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Death Panel Sarah

    Investigative journalists, even reptilicon ones, have to obey the law,too!!!

    March 27, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    One of Fox's finest gets charges reduced. Does this surprise anyone?

    March 27, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Disgusted John

    So if these people where not white, but dark skinned and muslim doing this kind of "investigation", they'd spend the rest of their life in prison being "interrogated."

    Good to know the U.S. government knows how to protect us by serving justice fairly.

    March 27, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Death Panel Sarah

    Breaking the law makes one a criminal, regardless of what they call themselves before the fact!!

    March 27, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Logic Rules

    The undeniable"silver-spooned" rich little brat, who should have had the book thrown at him, will get away scoff free. Yet, you knew it would end up that way.
    Him knowing this sad fact is half the problem for this dim-whit. What a joke.

    March 27, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Laverne

    I wonder if the charges would have been dropped if they were liberal activist?? I think not!

    March 27, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. Lori

    Why isn't this punk in prison???

    March 27, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Peter Vaguely

    Conservative activist = right wing thug! Jail him.

    March 27, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Joe

    I agree with the Senator. This was a serious violation of the law, and had the effect of disrupting the normal functions of a government office. Not to mention the waste of tax payers' money and police and court staff time. This sleazy pompous little s.o.b. should go to jail to set an example for others who might think of imitating his actions.

    March 27, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Mark from Louisiana

    At least the charges were dropped at the local level, the Black Panthers that were intimidating voters at a poll had their charges dropped by Eric Holder.

    I think someone standing outside a voting poll dressed in a uniform and swinging a blackjack is a lot more serious than a reporter with a camera.

    March 27, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Nadeem

    Crime is crime, the police are not liberals, they are generally conservatives. I would expect more chagres against conservatives, GOPers and Tea Prty folks one investgations are concluded on all the violet incidents.

    March 27, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  19. old_demmie

    please, kids, you should know the facts vefore you spew you rhetoric. HE didnt actually DO anything! He didnt tap anything or plant anything....he stood in the office and asked about their phone system. Misdemeanor is even to much

    March 27, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. oy vey az

    Rich brats getting away with crimes that everyday folks would spend years in prison for. That's a load of bull squat.

    March 27, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. stevetall

    Yeah. A break for the conservative criminals. Now, if this guy had been black, a Democrat, and not connected to somebody like Glenn Beck, it would be felony time!

    March 27, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. GPC

    Put this punk to work for 1000 hours of community service revitalizing the neighborhoods in DC and serving meals to the homelss there. Then he may learn the true nature of poverty in America and the need for public assistance that he so vehemently opposes.

    GPC in Lubbock

    March 27, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. JC

    So the moral of this story is "its not a crime if you dont get caught." right? I really worry about the future generation if this is how we are going to teach them.

    March 27, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. FactCheck

    please, kids, you should know the facts vefore you spew you rhetoric. HE didnt actually DO anything!
    -----–

    It seems you should be taking some of your own advice rather than repeating the Fox News talkie points. Entering a federal building under false pretenses is a crime... but I guess in your world, it's only a crime it a liberal commits it.

    March 27, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. jj7068

    "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."

    Sounds like a plan to me.

    March 27, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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