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Ladners sentenced for Katrina-related kickback scheme

BAY ST. LOUIS — A former Hancock County road department manager and his wife and brothers have been sentenced to prison in a Hurricane Katrina kickback case.

The Sea Coast Echo reports U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden in Gulfport sentenced Roger Ladner, the former road manager, to five years during a hearing yesterday. Ladner also was ordered to pay $1.13 million in restitution and was fined $25,000.

After the sentence was handed down, Ladner said he wanted to apologize to his friends, family and the community.

“The decisions I made were wrong, and I hope to one day have the chance to redeem myself,” he said.

Ladner’s wife, Sharon, was sentenced to two years. His brother, Billy Wayne Ladner, got just over three years. Another brother, Donald Ladner, was sentenced to six months in prison.

Prosecutors say Roger Ladner was given the authority to award millions of dollars in ditch-cleaning contracts after Katrina. He was accused of giving those contracts to companies controlled by him or relatives.

Ladner and his wife Sharon Ladner were indicted in December 2011 on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribery after a lengthy FBI investigation that determined he funneled Federal Emergency Management Agency money for Hurricane Katrina cleanup contracts into accounts he and his wife controlled.

An affidavit filed in the case said Roger Ladner approved 56 contracts for ditch cleaning in the county at a cost of about $7.3 million.

In June of this year, federal investigators expanded the charges and Billy Wayne Ladner and Donald Ladner were also indicted.

Roger Ladner’s attorneys had tried to argue that he had no legal authority to award the contracts and therefore should not have been charged in the case. But prosecutors said the county board of supervisors authorized Roger Ladner to award contracts.

The indictment said Roger Ladner was acting in his official capacity when he awarded the contracts. He and his wife were accused of using third parties “to conceal the fact that they and their companies worked on the county ditch cleaning contracts” and funneled the proceeds “to various persons and accounts.”

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