Ex-New Orleans tech chief pleads guilty

NEW ORLEANS --The former technology chief for the City of New Orleans pleaded guilty Monday in a fraud scheme that prosecutors said brought him more than $860,000 in bribes and kickbacks, paid by a businessman to whom he allegedly steered $4 million in city contracts.

Greg Meffert, at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of filing a false tax return -- two of the 63 counts in the indictment. Charges against his wife, Linda, also indicted in the case, will be dropped pending her participation in a pretrial diversion program.

Meffert faces up to eight years in prison.

The Mefferts were charged just over a year ago. The government alleged that Meffert took bribes and kickbacks from his former business partner, St. Pierre, to give St. Pierre's technology companies no-bid contracts at City Hall.

St. Pierre, also charged in the case, has pleaded not guilty.

The plea agreement announced in Fallon's courtroom Monday includes the dismissal of the 61 other charges against Meffert, but it does not outline a sentence. Sentencing is set for Feb. 3, shortly after St. Pierre's scheduled trial on Jan. 24.

The Mefferts have agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in the case, which also involves allegations of kickbacks to Baton Rouge and Lafayette officials.

Bribes were paid to Greg Meffert in the form of checks, the use of St. Pierre's credit card and payments Meffert received from a St. Pierre company after he left his City Hall post during former Mayor Ray Nagin's administration in July 2006. Prosecutors said the money was routed through a number of corporate "alter-egos" including NetMethods LLC, a company solely owned by St. Pierre. 

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