John Sens and Gerard Hoffman Jr. are reportedly cooperating with prosecutors in the investigation into alleged corruption at the troubled facility.
Officials removed Sens from his job as a purchasing manager for the prison in June after WWL-TV reported a federal grand jury was looking into possible corruption at the prison. Sens reportedly resigned from his demoted position last Friday.
Hoffman was a Colonel in the OPSO in the maintenance department until 2012. Prosecutors say the two men conspired to rig bids from at least two unidentified businessmen seeking contracts with the prison.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman had this response late Tuesday to the news of the charges:
“The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has a zero tolerance for illegal activity by any deputy or employee. The Sheriff’s Office has cooperated with every request made of us by the authorities in this case from the beginning. We will continue to cooperate fully. John Sens was reassigned in June 2012 and resigned last Friday. Gerard Hoffman is no longer affiliated with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, having left last July.”
The following is the Bill of Information outlining the alleged criminal activity by the two OPSO employees. Charges filed by a Bill of Information, rather than by indictment, almost always indicate that the defendant(s) are cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for leniency.
JOHN P. SENS, age 52, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, and GERARD J. HOFFMAN, age 59, a resident of Mandeville, Louisiana, were charged today in two separate bills of information with conspiracy to commit bribery, announced U.S. AttorneyDana J. Boente.
According to court documents, SENS was employed as the Director of Purchasing at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (“OPSO”), from in or around 2006 through 2013. HOFFMAN was employed at the OPSO from in or around 1976 through 2012, rising to the rank of Colonel in charge of the maintenance department at the OPSO.
Beginning in 2007, according to the bills of information filed against them, SENS and HOFFMAN began receiving things of value from two contractors, identified as Businessman A and Businessman B in court documents, in exchange for a rigged bidding system they employed to steer OPSO work to Businessman A and Businessman B. In particular, from 2007 through 2011, Businessman A and Businessman B would submit bids for OPSO work in the names of their respective companies but, with the knowledge and participation of SENS and HOFFMAN, would also submit phony or fake bids for these same projects in the names of other local companies, in an effort to give the appearance of a competitive bidding process. In many cases, the phony bids would intentionally be higher than the bids from Businessman A or Businessman B and, consequently, SENS and/or HOFFMAN would award the work to Businessman A or Businessman B.
In exchange for this rigged bidding process, SENS and HOFFMAN received various things of value from Businessman A and Businessman B, according to the bills of information. For example, from 2007 through 2011, SENS received approximately $30,000 in cash from Businessman A, as well as the digging and installation of a pool at a residence owned by SENS, at no cost to him. Similarly, during this same period of time, Businessman B paid for the purchase, framing, and matting of several paintings (so-called “Blue Dog” prints) for SENS. During this same period of time, Businessman B also provided things of value, including free electrical work and a trailer, to HOFFMAN, all at no cost to him.
If they are convicted of the conspiracy count charged against them, SENS and HOFFMAN face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
U.S. Attorney Boente reiterated that a Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Boente, as well as the investigative and prosecution team, offer their thanks
to Rafael Goyeneche and the Metropolitan Crime Commission for providing valuable assistance in this case.
The case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Chester and Jon Maestri.