Sen. Shepherd will stay out of jail

by Meghan Gordon, The Times-Picayune

Tuesday July 29, 2008, 5:45 PM

State Sen. Derrick Shepherd, left, and his attorney, Clarence Roby, leave the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse on Tuesday, after a judge rejected prosecutors attempts to have his bond revoked

A judge this afternoon rejected a move by federal prosecutors to have state Sen. Derrick Shepherd’s bond revoked and ordered home incarceration for him.
U.S. Magistrate Louis Moore Jr. ordered that Shepherd be placed under home detention with an ankle bracelet that monitors his whereabouts. He also ordered mental health screening for the Marrero Democrat and told him not to make any contact with the woman who claimed he punched her Saturday morning. Shepherd needs court permission to leave the New Orleans-area federal court district and has been told not to have any alcohol.

Thaise Ashford leaves the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse on Tuesday after testifying in Sen. Derrick Shepherd’s bond hearing.

Thaise Ashford told the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Saturday that Shepherd punched her. But she recanted that story in her testimony in Tuesday afternoon’s hearing. The hearing was called because prosecutors wanted to revoke the bond that was set for Shepherd when he was indicted on federal charges in April.

Shepherd spent Monday night in a halfway house before today’s hearing. He will stay in that halfway house for another 24 hours until the details of the home incarceration can be worked out.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Magner called Shepherd a danger to the public and a flight risk based on the reported fracas over the weekend.

Jefferson Parish authorities said Shepherd barged into Ashford’s house early Saturday, started a fight that left her with scrapes on her wrists and stomach, and stole $100 cash and her $589 Blackberry Pearl. Shepherd was booked with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, simple battery and theft over $500 and spent Saturday night in the Gretna jail. At the time, the woman was referred to as Shepherd’s ex-girlfriend.

Read the JPSO search warrant

However, in court Tuesday afternoon, Ashford recanted her story and said she and Shepherd are still in a relationship. She said the door that she claimed Shepherd damaged had been damaged earlier and that she misled sheriff’s deputies.

“I was angry, and before I even thought I about it I did it,” Ashford testified, referring to filing the police report against Shepherd.

Ashford, an employee of the New Orleans Recovery School District, said Shepherd did not steal her cellphone, as she had told detectives, and that they had merely exchanged phones so they could check the calls on each others phones.

In response to direct questions from defense attorney John Reed, Ashford said Shepherd did not punch her or hit her.

Shepherd and Reed got attorney Bruce Netterville to draw up an affidavit recanting Ashford’s complaint and she signed it, she testified this afternoon.

However, Magner pointed out that by contacting Ashford to have her recant the story, Shepherd violated the conditions of his release.

In closing statements shortly after 5 p.m., Magner said Ashford was pressured into recanting her story. Otherwise, he said, Ashford would have come to court with her own lawyer if she was going to admit that she had illegally filed a false police report.

In his closing statement, Reed said that Shepherd failed to leave the house when Ashford asked him, but that is not a felony and doesn’t merit taking away his freedom by revoking his bond.

“The government sometimes likes to see its defendants in jail because we know the great difficulty in putting on a trial,” Reed said.

However, in his rebuttal closing statement, Magner pointed out that Shepherd’s statements to reporters after his early Sunday release from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center showed he didn’t expect Ashford to recant so thoroughly.

When he left prison Sunday, Shepherd claimed that he was reacting to threats that had been made against his mother and sister.

On Monday, Reed called the reporting of the incident overblown and said Shepherd poses no flight risk or danger to others.

Before the incident, Shepherd was out on a $5,000 bond he was ordered to sign in April after a grand jury indicted him on mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges. The release came with few conditions other than to attend court hearings and abide by all federal, state and local laws.

The indictment accuses him of helping unlicensed bond broker Gwen Moyo launder $141,000 in checks that she couldn’t cash because her bank accounts were frozen by the state Department of Insurance when she failed to stop selling bonds without a license. Prosecutors say Shepherd kept about $65,000 of the money and returned the rest to Moyo and her associates.

Shepherd has pleaded not guilty and said he performed 100 hours of legitimate legal work for Moyo in exchange for payment.

Meghan Gordon can be reached at mgordon@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3785.

Read previous Times-Picayune stories about Shepherd, including coverage of the federal case against him and questions about his residency.

Monday: Shepherd ordered to halfway house after weekend arrest

Sunday: Sen. Shepherd arrested in Jefferson

July 12: More questions raised on senator’s residency

July 10: Jeffersons tied to Shepherd conspiracy case

June 18: Shepherd asks judge for separate trial

May 16: Senator’s co-defendant asked to wear wire in money laundering case

April 23: Derrick Shepherd pleads not guilty

April 11: Senator indicted in fraud case

April 11: Betty Jefferson implicated in Shepherd case, sources say

Dec. 8: Questions raised about state senator’s residency

Read the April 10 indictment

April 23 bond

Woman recants claims against Sen. Shepherd

by Meghan Gordon, The Times-Picayune

Tuesday July 29, 2008, 4:00 PM

The woman who said state Sen. Derrick Shepherd punched her Saturday morning has changed her story. She testified this afternoon at a federal court hearing where a judge is being asked to revok Shepherd’s bond and send him to jail.

State Sen. Derrick Shepherd, left, and his attorney, Clarence Roby, arrive at the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse on Tuesday for a bond hearing where prosecutors were seeking to have his bond revoked after a weekend fight with his ex-girlfriend.

 

Shepherd, D-Marrero, spent Monday night in a halfway house while lawyers called potential witnesses and prepared for today’s hearing before U.S. Magistrate Louis Moore Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Magner called Shepherd a danger to the public and a flight risk based on the reported fracas over the weekend.

Jefferson Parish authorities said Shepherd barged into his ex-girlfriend’s house early Saturday, started a fight that left her with scrapes on her wrists and stomach, and stole $100 cash and her $589 Blackberry Pearl. Shepherd was booked with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, simple battery and theft over $500 and spent Saturday night in the Gretna jail.

Read the JPSO search warrant

However, in court this afternoon, the woman, Thaise Ashford, recanted her story and said she and Shepherd are still in a relationship. She said the door that she claimed Shepherd damaged had been damaged earlier and that she misled sheriff’s deputies.

On Monday, defense attorney John Reed called the reporting of the incident overblown and argued in court that Shepherd poses no flight risk or danger to others.

Before the incident, Shepherd was out on a $5,000 bond he was ordered to sign in April after a grand jury indicted him on mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges. The release came with few conditions other than to attend court hearings and abide by all federal, state and local laws.

The indictment accuses him of helping unlicensed bond broker Gwen Moyo launder $141,000 in checks that she couldn’t cash because her bank accounts were frozen by the state Department of Insurance when she failed to stop selling bonds without a license. Prosecutors say Shepherd kept about $65,000 of the money and returned the rest to Moyo and her associates.

Shepherd has pleaded not guilty and said he performed 100 hours of legitimate legal work for Moyo in exchange for payment.

Meghan Gordon can be reached at mgordon@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3785.