March 27th, 2010
09:59 AM ET
13 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: James O'Keefe • Louisiana • Mary Landrieu
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Limbaugh is a liberal

    How come republicans think that they can get away with crimes just to bring people they disagree with down. This guy has already been shown to be a fraud, editing tapes to make opponents look evil, and now he is going to get away with vandalism? Do you think republicans would let any Obama supporter get away with even a tenth of the stuff this guy has commited?

    March 27, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. moosehead

    This sneaky little pipsqueak of a weasel should be jailed ,... but he's well connected so he gets to walk, and move on to perpetrate even bigger felonies.

    March 27, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Debbie from AZ

    This is a miscarriage of justice. If these had not been young, white, conservatives with connections to a US District Attorney, they would be in jail right now, most likely on felony charges.

    March 27, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. ahetch

    He says that he is a journalist. Is he a journalist the way the Palin is a journalist. HA

    March 27, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. gimme gimme

    "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." ----– > so what you;re saying is that without a trial, you can discerne his intent from a few news articles? from what I've read, he was in a federal building to see if the phones actually worked. The congresswoman said they did not so as a concerned citizen, he went to find out. Is that really a crime?

    March 27, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Ancient Texan

    The only reason there are any charges is because of the embarrassment of the receiver of the bribe by calling more attention to it, and his success in bringing down ACORN for their corruptness.

    March 27, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Doug

    Attention all voters, throw the congress out with their employees this year, all of them. They do nothing but take up space at high salaries. Close the government buildings, they produce nothing but expenses. Congress has already started shutting the country down, and the President is the warranty car king for GM, he said so, so I can believe it.

    March 27, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Michael from Ventura

    Once again connections and money cover the crime............NOT. Fact check -if a Democrat would have done this you would be all over it! Hypocrite!

    March 27, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. ray

    had this racists beena blackman , man, man, man. he would have been behind bars already.

    March 27, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. buckwheat

    It is just terrible what this fellow did.Throw the book at him.

    March 27, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. SB

    oh please....he is not a "conservative activist" but just a punk fraudster looking for his 15 mins of fame by whatever the means.

    March 27, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. haldeman

    Seems we lost one Republican president because of wiretapping and just plain skulduggery.

    March 27, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Independent Voter

    If he was a minority man, he would have been in jail for domesic terrorism. This does not surise me anyway. You might as well release him with no charges while you are at it.

    March 27, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Aaron

    These dudes must have some political connections to get the charges reduced. Anyone outside of that realm would be looking at felony charges and years in prison. So much for making an example of the Watergate wannabes.

    March 27, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Tori in Texas

    Don't worry, folks, this kid will do something stupid again soon enough. When you hate at so young an age, there's only trouble ahead for you in the future. Someday, when his name comes up again, we'll remember this and wonder if 1000 hours of community service at a free clinic or food bank would have saved him. I bet his parents are so proud of him.

    March 27, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Mark Sanford, Gov of SC (when I feel like showing up)

    Just say YES! to domestic terrorism!

    March 27, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Mickey

    The should have thrown the book at this creep...he is nothing but a candy-ass!

    March 27, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. DemocraticVoterMaryland

    Hmm: four “true-believing,” Republican Party activists, posing as telephone repairmen, attempting to secretly tape Democratic staff interactions in Senator Landrieu’s Louisiana office; shades of the Watergate Break-In and the Nixon tapes during the early 1970s, nearly forty years later. Apparently, History does repeat itself.

    March 27, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. D. Bunker

    Incredible that this spoiled little criminal is considered a hero to the hateful teabaggers because of all the lies he spread about ACORN with his doctored tapes. I thought conservatives believed in "law and order." I guess we'll find out when the decide whether to repudiate O'Keefe's BS or embrace it.

    March 27, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Doug

    This is a big (fill Biden's favorite word in here) deal!

    Unlike Obama's hired ACORN goons threatening people at the voting booths in Philly, our the SE.... whatever the Obama lib group is called that was beating up people at the Town Hall meetings. Obviously the hired Democrats to scream the N word and kill him at the Palin speeches was oh so tolerant as well.

    March 27, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Felonious Monk

    "Phony identities" implies deception. These guys were up to no good.

    Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice? Justice?

    How is this justice?

    March 27, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. jerseylou

    Unbelievable...just unbelievable what a punch in the stomach to average law abiding citizen.To let these thugs off is a slap in the face to the Justice System. I guess cheney and his mob was right when he said no body is going to do a f.....g thing to us.

    March 27, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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