Gaston Gerald

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Gaston Gerald

Louisiana State Senator for
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 Woodrow Wilson Dumas

Born October 20, 1931
Place of birth missing
Political party Democrat
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
Occupation Farmer; Rancher]

Gaston Gerald (born October 20, 1931) is an American former 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

A Democrat, Gerald represented Ward II on the Baton Rouge City-Parish Council from 1965 to 1972.[1] He succeeded council member Woodrow Wilson Dumas, who was elected as the parish mayor-president. Gerald then entered the 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 on November 1, 1975.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[4] Though Gerald's sentence was for five years,[5] he served only half that time, having been released on July 30, 1982.[6]

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 moment voted 33-3 to expel Gerald as a member, with Anthony Guarisco, Jr., of Morgan City in St. Mary Parish leading the majority forces.[4][7]

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.[5]

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 in New Orleans, 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.[8]

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. to Gerald. Cross held the seat from 1981 to 1996, when he was unseated by the young Republican Mike Branch, who served only one term.[2]

Family background

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 n Washington Parish and a sister, Martha G. Watts of French Settlement in Livingston Parish.[9]

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.[10] From 1995 to 2006, Gerald received $30,357 in federal farm subsidies.[11]

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).

References

  1. Elected and Appointed Officials in City-Parish Government. brgov.com. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Membership of the Louisiana Senate, 1880- Present. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on November 12, 2019.
  3. "Bussie maneuvering work bill's death," Minden Press-Herald, June 14, 1976, p. 1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Pol in the Pen", Time, June 8, 1981. Retrieved on November 18, 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Beckner's record. donaldbeckner.com. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  6. Inmate Locator. Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on November 12, 2019.
  7. Tony Guarisco. linkedin.com. Retrieved on June 24, 2013.
  8. "Legislative Scholarship Recipients," The New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 23, 1995, p. A-13.
  9. Obituary of James Russell Gerald (a younger brother of Gaston Gerald). usgwarchives.net/la. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  10. Sixty at 91. ldaf.state.la.us. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.
  11. Farm Subsidy Database. farm.ewg.org. Retrieved on November 18, 2009.