Gibsland Mayor to Plead Guilty

Mayor Odell Key will admit in Bienville District Court to financial mismanagement of the town

By Vickie Welborn

GIBSLAND — The controversial administration of Gibsland Mayor Odell Key is expected to end Wednesday with an admission of guilt to at least one felony charge related to his financial mismanagement of the town.

Key, 73, is scheduled to appear in Bienville District Court at noon in a plea arrangement reached with the state attorney general’s office. Spokesman Steven Hartmann confirmed Key’s court appearance but said he could not provide additional details.

Key’s attorney, Lavelle B. Salomon, of Monroe, did confirm, however, his client will plead guilty to one count of malfeasance in office. Key was arrested on five counts in December.

Key is expected to be sentenced after his plea. Details are still being worked out, Salomon said.

Key over the weekend faxed a letter of resignation to the town, Salomon said. The information hasn’t been forwarded to the secretary of state’s office, which is needed before it becomes official.

Just realizing the end is near for Key still has Mayor Pro Tem Marketris Jones at a loss for words. He and Alderman Timmy Cato — along with former Alderwoman Katherine Mixon — complained since early 2011 about Key’s refusal to abide by state laws in the oversight of the town. They called Key a “one man show,” blaming him for disappearing records, refusal to answer public records requests, hiring and firing employees without board approval, questionable spending practices and failure to follow through with board votes.

Their complaints, however, at the time failed to gain solid footing with the attorney general’s office, Louisiana legislative auditor’s office or Bienville district attorney’s office. The aldermen took their complaints in April 2012 to The Times, which detailed some of the town’s dire financial problems already outlined by an independent auditing firm and through additional public financial record. The newspaper continued to expose the town’s murky finances through a series of reports.

By June 2012, Sheriff John Ballance announced an investigation into misappropriation of public funds. The probe has required thousands of hours of manpower to review volumes of public records, multiple court subpoenas, interviews of current and former employees and a surprise raid at Town Hall in search of even more documents.

7 Responses to “Gibsland Mayor to Plead Guilty”

  1. Mr. E Says:

    Finally, the message is getting through that being black does not place anyone above the law nor does it excuse criminal behavior! The one thing all these disgraced and convicted mayors have in common is their belief that being black entitled them to break the law and their playing of the race card to excuse their criminal behavior and cower investigators. Leslie Thompson from Jonesboro, Deedee Slaughter from Port Allen, Ray Nagin from New Orleans, Odell Key from Gibsland, and hopefully joining this lot soon, Alicia Smith from Homer have played the race card to silence critics of their criminal behavior to parlay their stays in office far longer than would ever have been tolerated of whites. Hopefully their incarcerations will both chasten future black public officials contemplating criminal activity under cover of the race card and embolden angry citizens into taking action sooner while shrugging off the race card as nothing more than the weak attempt at avoiding prosecution that it is!

  2. Follow the $$$ Says:

    This man is smarter than Leslie it appears.

  3. Dee Says:

    We learn from this report the value of freedom of the press and the impact reporting of facts has in our Republic. Thank you, Mr. Abbot for your contribution.
    It is a disgrace the elected officials feeding at the public trough ignore their duties as did the attorney general, the legislative auditors, and the Bienville district attorney when the mayor’s wrongdoings were reported to them.
    We, the people, still have power when facts are exposed and the press sheds light on wrongdoing.
    Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Thomas Paine in 1796, in which he wrote: “Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.”

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Just refer these incompetent, uneducated idiots as modern day “DARK” ages.

  5. SayAgain Says:

    “Let’s move on; nothing to see here; this is a nothing situation blown all out of proportion by right-wingers and Republican obstructionists.”
    Democrat-Gannett press release

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