Ronald Bodenheimer

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Ronald D. Bodenheimer (born Sep. 22, 1952) was a judge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, convicted of various federal charges resulting, in part, from an FBI probe called Operation Wrinkled Robe.[1] Bodenheimer spent more than three years in federal prison, additional time in a half-way house, and was released on September 21, 2007, to serve the remainder of his term under probation under house confinement.[1]

Bodenheimer began his legal career with the state as a prosecutor with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office.[2] In 1999, Bodenheimer won an election to become judge by defeating Jim Donelon, an established politician with overwhelming support by Jefferson Parish elected officials.[2] Bodenheimer had the reputation of being a "law and order" judge and had been criticized by social activists for his heavy-handed conviction statistics.[3] During his short term on the bench, Bodenheimer set the Jefferson Parish record for the longest prison sentence, 881 years for a remorseless armed robber.[4] The abhorrent accusations and the revelation of the judge's apparent double-life shocked most in the New Orleans community, where he was largely respected as an attorney and judge.

Investigations[edit]

Bodenheimer owned a seafood marina in Venetian Isles, a suburb within Orleans Parish.[5] The media first brought attention to Bodenheimer in 2001 when a teenage boy was electrocuted by an illegal conveyor belt at the marina.[5] It was discovered that the seafood marina had been operating without a license since 1999.[5] Bodenheimer had already been embroiled in a lawsuit with Venetian Isles residents over Bodenheimer's placing the commercial facility in the largely residential waterfront community.

A particular resident in the Venetian Isles community, Eric M Boe, complained to the FBI about Bodenheimer and the marina, alleging the marina was being used for drug-trafficking. Eric M Boe began cooperating with the FBI 1999. Bodenheimer and a marina employee, in an attempt to silence Eric M Boe, the vocal resident, planted OxyContin in Eric M Boe's possession in the spring of 2002 and attempted to have the man arrested on drug charges.[5]

During the investigation into the framing incident, additional unrelated charges were brought against Bodenheimer for crimes committed in his capacity as a judge. A six-year FBI investigation into corruption at the 24th Judicial District Court, located in Jefferson Parish and where Bodenheimer presided as judge, revealed that a bail bondsman, Louis Marcotte III, had provided meals, trips, and other gifts to judges in exchange for their lowering bond requirements.[1] The investigation, Operation Wrinkled Robe, resulted in 17 convictions, including Bodenheimer, Marcotte, fellow ex-judge Alan Green, and several Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Deputies.[1]

In addition, to the convictions brought through the marina-related drug plant and the bail bond bribery, Bodenheimer was convicted for having provided favorable rulings to restaurant-owner and Popeyes Chicken founder Al Copeland in a child-custody case.[6][7] Bodenheimer confessed that a corporate attorney for a Copeland company had promised Bodenheimer a lucrative seafood contract in exchange for the favorable domestic ruling.[6][7] Further, Bodenheimer confessed he had accepted $16,000 in fuel from a criminal defendant who appeared before his court.[6]

Judge Ginger Berrigan sentenced Bodenheimer to 46 months in prison, which exceeded the time prosecutors requested.[8] During the sentencing hearing Judge Berrigan stated, "Corruption in the judiciary is worse than corruption in any other branch of government."[8]

In 2002, prior to the convictions, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an "interim suspension" of Bodenheimer's license to practice law.[4] Following the conviction, Bodenheimer "permanently resigned" from the Louisiana bar.[9]

In 2014, after serving 34 years in prison, Reginald Adams, who had been wrongly convicted of murder by then prosecutor, Ronald Bodenheimer, was freed. The lead detective, Martin Venezia, has since served a 5-year sentence for negligent homicide. The conviction of Judge Bodenheimer gave credence to taking another look at Mr. Adam's conviction.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Disgraced Jefferson Parish Louisiana Judge Ronald Bodenheimer Released From Federal Prison...". Sanctuary Bail Bonds. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Donelon Once Again". Gambit Weekly. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  3. ^ Recent Research shows Startling Results
  4. ^ a b "Benching the Judges". Gambit Weekly. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Feds: Judge Sought To Frame Foe". WDSU. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c Judge Ronald Bodenheimer
  7. ^ a b "Judge rules on Copeland records". Times-Picayune. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  8. ^ a b Judge Berrigan Sentences Judge Bodenheimer
  9. ^ http://www.ladb.org/CLEMaterials/2005/PlattsmierText.pdf