Gaston Gerald

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Gaston Gerald
Louisiana State Senator from District 13 (East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, and Livingston parishes)
In office
1972–1981
Succeeded by Mike Cross
Baton Rouge City-Parish Council member
In office
1965–1972
Preceded by W.W. Dumas
Personal details
Born (1931-10-20) October 20, 1931 (age 84)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lorraine C. Gerald
Children

James Darrell Gerald

Kendall Paul Gerald
Parents James Edward and Cynthia Martin Gerald
Residence Greenwell Springs
East Baton Rouge Parish
Louisiana, USA
Occupation Farmer; Rancher

Gaston Gerald (born October 20, 1931)[1] is a former American politician from Greenwell Springs in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, who was imprisoned in the early 1980s for extortion of a bribe from a Baton Rouge contractor.

Political career[edit]

A Democrat, Gerald represented Ward II on the Baton Rouge City-Parish Council from 1965 to 1972.[2] He succeeded council member W.W. Dumas upon Dumas' election as mayor-president. Gerald then entered the Louisiana State Senate for the first of three terms. He was elected to the Senate for a second term in his state's first ever nonpartisan blanket primary held in 1975.[3]

In 1976, as a freshman state senator, Gerald was named chairman of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, in which capacity he tried to defeat the right-to-work legislation which passed that summer. With Victor Bussie, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, Gerald proposed a state constitutional amendment on the issue, which would have raised the bar for passage.[4]

In 1979, Gerald was convicted of having attempted to extort $25,000 from a contractor who faced forthcoming late charges for his failure to complete construction of the Baton Rouge Civic Center before the contract deadline. Gerald offered to distribute money among members of the Baton Rouge city-parish council, on which he had previously served, to get additional time for the contractor. Despite legal conviction, Gerald won a third Senate term in 1979. He was soon remanded to the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Worth, Texas.[5] While imprisoned, Gerald befriended Everett Bleichner, an insurance adjuster convicted of extortion. Upon Bleichner release on February 9, 1981, Gerald put him on the Senate payroll as an aide with undisclosed duties at a salary of more than $900 per month.[5] Though Gerald's sentence was for five years,[6] he served only half that time, having been released on July 30, 1982.[7] Gerald did not resign from the Senate when he entered prison but continued to draw his salary and expenses. In 1981, the Senate in a rare move voted 33-3 to expel Gerald as a member, with Anthony Guarisco, Jr., of Morgan City leading the majority forces.[5][8]

Meanwhile, Henry Holden, business manager for the Pipefitters Local 198 union, was convicted of obstruction of justice in attempting to influence the federal grand jury during the investigation of the Gerald case. Holden was sentenced to two years imprisonment.[6]

In a series of press articles beginning in 1993 it was revealed that politicians in both parties in Louisiana had been tapping either their own family members or relatives of political allies for coveted legislative scholarships to Tulane University, enabled by an 1881 state law. In 1995 it was disclosed that while in the Senate, Gaston Gerald had sponsored a scholarship for Pascal Calogero, III, of New Orleans, one of three sons of Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. [9]

After expulsion from the Senate, a special election was held to name a successor for the unexpired part of Gerald's third term. Fellow Democrat Mike Cross, then the mayor of Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish, was elected. Cross held the seat from 1981 to 1996, when he was unseated by the young Republican Mike Branch, who served only one term.[3]

Family background[edit]

Gerald was one of eight children born to James Edward Gerald and the former Cynthia Martin. Only two of his siblings survive, a brother, Kelly P. Gerald of rural Pine in Washington Parish, and a sister, Martha G. Watts of French Settlement in Livingston Parish.[10] Since his release from prison, Gerald has been engaged in cattle ranching and farming in East Baton Rouge and Washington parishes. Former State Senator B.B. "Sixty" Rayburn of Washington Parish similarly farmed and ranched after his defeat in the 1995 general election by the Republican Phil Short.[11] From 1995 to 2006, Gerald received $30,357 in federal farm subsidies.[12]

Gerald and his wife, Lorraine C. Gerald (born c. 1935), have two sons, James Darrell Gerald (born c. 1955) and Kendall Paul Gerald (born c. 1958).[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Net Detective People Search
  2. ^ "Elected and Appointed Officials in City-Parish Government" (PDF). brgov.com. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Membership of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2008" (PDF). legis.state.la.us. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Bussie maneuvering work bill's death", Minden Press-Herald, June 14, 1976, p. 1
  5. ^ a b c "Pol in the Pen". Time, June 8, 1981. June 8, 1981. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Beckner's record". donaldbeckner.com. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Inmate Locator". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Tony Guarisco". linkedin.com. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ "LEGISLATIVE SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS". The Times-Picayune (New Orleans). 23 October 1995. p. A-13. 
  10. ^ "Obituary of James Russell Gerald (a younger brother of Gaston Gerald)publisher=usgwarchives.net/la". Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Sixty at 91" (PDF). ldaf.state.la.us. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Farm Subsidy Database". farm.ewg.org. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  13. ^ People Search and Background Check
Political offices
Preceded by
Missing
Louisiana State Senator from District 13 (East Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston parishes)

Gaston Gerald
1972–1981

Succeeded by
Michael Aduron "Mike" Cross
Political offices
Preceded by
W.W. Dumas
Baton Rouge City-Parish Council member

Gaston Gerald
1965–1972

Succeeded by
Missing