May 26th, 2010
08:36 PM ET
13 years ago

Four get probation, fines for falsely entering senator's office

(CNN) - Conservative videographer James O'Keefe and three co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday for entering federal property under false pretenses for a January incident in which they tried to access the phone system in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu.

O'Keefe, 25, and co-defendants Joseph Basel, 24, Robert Flanagan, 24, and Stan Dai, 25, were each fined $1,500, placed on probation and ordered to do community service, according to a Department of Justice statement.

The four were arrested in January after Basel and Flanagan posed as telephone repair workers to get into Landrieu's office.

O'Keefe also was in the office and secretly videotaped the incident, while Dai was outside, according to the Justice Department statement.

Landrieu, a Democrat, had voted in favor of the Democratic health care reform bill the previous month.

Calling himself an "investigative journalist," O'Keefe claimed he was trying to test the credibility of a claim by Landrieu that her office had been unable to field calls from constituents opposed to her stance on the Senate
health care bill because her phone lines had been "jammed for weeks."

Basel and Flanagan told a staffer in Landrieu's office that they were telephone repairmen and were granted access to the reception desk's phone system. All four were arrested shortly after leaving the office.

O'Keefe is the same conservative activist who dressed as a pimp last summer and visited the offices of ACORN, which bills itself as an advocacy group for low- and middle-income families, to solicit advice on setting up a brothel, among other scenarios, law enforcement officials confirmed.

He secretly recorded the visits on videotapes that were posted on the Internet, leading to a media firestorm. ACORN announced in March it was shutting down due to a loss of funding.

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 plea bargain. The new sentence now reads: (CNN) – Conservative videographer James O'Keefe and three co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday for entering federal property under false pretenses for a January incident in which they tried to access the phone system in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Filed under: ACORN • James O'Keefe
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Jay

    The bratty white boy gets a slap on the hand - a little tiny slap. Were he a person of color, you can believe he'd be looking at 5 – 10 in the slammer with no hope of probation, and were he an adherent of Islam he'd be sitting in Gitmo for the rest of his life. Some justice system.

    May 26, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  2. SuperHiro

    Wow, what a great precedent to set that basically breaking into a United States senator's office only gets you a 1500.$ fee. I think I paid more for a late parking violation..

    May 26, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is one conservative activist that should have not left his house in the morning. I am sure that he would have kept going and looking for someone to record that showed ACORN in a bad light. There are always those out there that don't follow the rules or like to bend them to their advantage. I would have liked if he did this with a government agency so that we can get rid of those that are doing a disservice to the job their were highered to do.

    May 26, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  4. Mountaineer

    He got off too easy!

    May 26, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  5. vwrtb

    Is that it.. My god! Maybe I should commit fraud!

    May 26, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  6. lovable liberal

    A slap on the wrist for conservative lawbreakers – no big surprise there.

    May 26, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. BeverlyNC

    Typical Republican corruption, dishonesty, and in the gutter tactics. They are traitors to America and need to be thrown out of office, They do not deserve the honor of being in our government. They are liars and do-nothings who disrespect President Obama because he is Black and intelligent and successful and they can't tolerate a non-white person being a great leader.

    May 26, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. steve s.

    that's a load of BS. i got a similar sentence for dropping a cigarette butt out of a car window. those fools deserve at least a couple days in jail...

    May 26, 2010 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. Michael

    Kid who answers Sarah Palin's password recovery question right faces up to 40 years in jail... but James O'Keefe gets a $2500 fine and probation...

    May 26, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  10. Sarah, the baby seal basher

    These lowlifes should be doing real time,they are not minors,they are adults.

    May 26, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. GP

    This guy is a partisan hack. The ACORN video was a smear. If you see see the entire ACORN video, unedited, you will see he is a hack.

    He is apparently unrepentant. The judge should have thrown him in jail for 180 days. Just for the fun of it.

    May 26, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  12. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    As a voting US citizen currently living outside of the borders, I'm much more concerned about this judicial ruling than I am about DADT, the Arizona immigration debacle or the sexual exploits of state-governor candidates endorsed by Sarah Palin.

    May 26, 2010 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  13. Vicki

    I am glad they plead guilty. It is good for these republican turds to learn that being sneaky and crooked gets you in big trouble. The ACORN tapes were spliced together in a criminal way. But that did not keep Fox news from showing it around the clock.

    May 26, 2010 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  14. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The alleged "videographer/investigative journalist" entered a guilty plea, admitting that he and his cohorts have no regard for the law.
    In making a deal, they avoided jail time...
    This clown is a criminal.
    He will probably be afforded the same kind of dotting sanctity that is bestowed on the likes of Ollie North, G. Gordon Lindy and Richard Nixon... OK, Nixon didn't get a radio talk show nor spend a lot of time on the rubber chicken circuit, but O'Keefe has already been heralded by the "Right," I see no reason that his political stock will not continue to go up with each subsequent self indulgent act.

    May 27, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  15. Aaron

    I wonder which public officials got them out of what was previously a really big crime.

    May 27, 2010 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. JR

    Fine, we do not have to put people in prison if he/she is not so dangerous to be outside, but it has to be consistent and fair for every one.
    The problem is that one person in Detroit (ex Mayor) has been sentenced to five years for not telling the world about a very private matter. I do believe that sex activities are very private, so it is very OK not to tell the world about what you exactly did. This the only matter that people shouild have the right to lie if no crime was involved.
    People who want so much to know the detail of other people sex activities can just go watch porno movies.

    May 27, 2010 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  17. Anonymous

    In California- that's about what you get for running a red light.
    Nice to know our federal break in laws are still so soft- nearly 38 years after Watergate.

    May 27, 2010 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  18. scott

    they should go 2 jail

    May 27, 2010 03:28 am at 3:28 am |