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

Charges reduced in Landrieu phone incident

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. independent,tx.

    to conservatives these good old boys that did not do any thing wrong,

    March 26, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |

    If these guys were minorities (especially middle eastern) theyd already have cell mates at Gitmo....

    March 26, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. Lloyd Roberts

    I guess when daddy is a US attorney, charges get reduced. Imagine if you and I did something like that - terrorism charges. Screw these four young fake spoiled conservative brats, they really have no clue. They'll be the ones that grow up to be Senators and congressmen with the best health insurance going, paid for by the US taxpayer, but when you need a little help, they'll call you a socialist dog. Glad I'll be gone before these bozos get to be the boss

    March 26, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Carol of Missouri

    It doesn't seem like enough punishment to me for somthing so serious, although it's typical of GOP dirty tricks.

    March 26, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. Bo Jangles

    They said all along they went into the office to expose Landieu's staff letting the phones ring off the hook as thousands of angry conservatives called to complain. Tapping phone lines was not part of the plan. Landrieu does not want her office practices in the news.

    March 26, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  6. Limnologym

    Why were the charges reduced?

    March 26, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  7. Perusing-through

    Six months in prison and $5,000.00 is not enough for this rat-snake.

    March 26, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  8. jerseylou

    WOW,someone at the top of the Justice Dept. need to investigate the investigators,something is definitely wrong with this picture! This makes the average good guy sick to his or her stomach.

    March 26, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. Perusing-through


    Wait a minute! What happened to the crime of tape-recording people without their knowledge? That is illegal in Maryland where James O'Keefe infamously video-record Maryland ACORN employees without their consent.

    Why haven’t O’Keefe been punished for breaking Maryland’s voice-recording laws?

    March 26, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  10. Sharon Johnson

    If this young man had been a liberal activist, the tea party people
    would be screaming in the streets. Their little brains would explode!
    Because they are connected they get off with a misdemenor.
    Meanwhile Acorn, a group that over the years has helped many
    unfortunate people, are disbanding over what James O'Keefe
    did to them.

    March 26, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. Terry from West Texas

    We all know that if it had been a Liberal operative who tried to tap a phone in a federal building, the Conservatives in Congress would be holding hearings 18 hours a day. Why are they letting this creep off with a slap on the wrist?

    March 26, 2010 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  12. BeverlyNC

    A violent, lying Republican caught committing a crime against a Democrat – wow what a shock!

    Anyone remember Watergate?

    March 26, 2010 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. snadjafinia

    Wow, so it's clear then that the footage recorded was true and uncontestible. The feds are not giving these indeviduals a reward? Instead they are charging them? Ouch... America the what?

    March 26, 2010 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  14. Nobody Special

    O'Keefe looks like a weasel.

    Based on his actions, he qualifies as one too.

    March 26, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. Michael from Ventura

    Too bad- but I'm not surprised- considering their "connections".

    March 26, 2010 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  16. ev

    this is insane. these kids where trying to wiretap a senator and then they were going to doctor the videos just like the last time.

    this kid is the next karl rove and has to be stopped

    March 26, 2010 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  17. Dr. Randall Norris, Ph.D.

    Are any of you surprised by this turn of events? I'm not. Special treatment for special treatment. He can keep working his way up the food change, eventually commit a felony, get pardoned, and work for a Republican in the White House. He's just getting started!

    March 26, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. Obamalism

    The liberal media thought they had this guy nailed to the wall for phone tapping. Misdemeanor... haha

    March 26, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. jtool

    Look at the guy, you know he's a pansy. Give him another couple years and we'll see another conservative activist come out of the closet.

    March 26, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  20. Michael E. Maus

    Mr. O'Keefe is obviously an example of a conservative who believes in his own exceptionalism. He said that he is different than others and should not be constrained by normal rules. Mr. O'Keefe is right: he IS different than most people. O'Keefe is a sociopath who is contemptuous of most other people as he demonstrated in the ACORN smear campaign.. James O'Keefe is a liar and a criminal trespasser, not a divinely appointed enforcer of decency; his demonstrated disregard for the rights of people he despises, and his remorseless arrogance, should be rewarded with a maximum sentence.

    March 26, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  21. No Incumbents 2010

    James O'Keefe is a criminal who like Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby wants to use his political influence to avoid responsibility for his conduct. Now James O'Keefe is getting a slap on the wrist. Will other lawbreakers also get leniency in federal court? Of course not.

    March 26, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. People's Voice

    Nice to have a daddy who can get you out of jail free.

    March 26, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  23. Steve

    Since this clown is from the Party of Personal Responsibility- Hang 'em High!! I'm sure he would have it no other way.

    March 26, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  24. 1fender

    Of Course there is no conflict of interest here!!!!

    Lets see now, Robert Flanagan, the son of an acting U.S. attorney from Louisiana's Western District get light treatment for trying to spy on a sitting senator? WOW!

    If this were a Republican Senators office the cons (conservatives) would be shooting at Democrats offices again.

    And could this thing actually make the Republican legislator blocking President Obama's nominee to be the REAL U.S. attorney to allow a Obama's nominee to tke over a post from the acting attorney who is obviously corrupt?

    Why isn't CNN talking about this?

    March 26, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  25. galileo2100

    A slap on the open palm.

    March 26, 2010 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
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