Millet denied new trial

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 1999

L’Observateur / October 25, 1999

NEW ORLEANS – The 5th U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a request byformer St. John Parish President Lester Millet Jr. for a new trial.Millet, now serving a 57-month sentence in prison for extortion, money laundering and racketeering, claims a witness would provide new evidence in the case. The appeals court disagreed.The 1996 conviction came about over a land deal on the west bank to sell the Whitney Plantation to the Formosa Plastics Co.. The jury found Milletguilty of extorting $200,000 from Gramercy businessman Durel Matherne, who was handling the deal for the parish. As part of the sentence, Milletwas ordered to pay back the money to Matherne.

In the appeal for a new trial, Millet said a Formosa Plastics official would now testify that Millet’s activities were not a factor in the company’s decision to abandon plans to build the rayon pulp plant.

However, the appeals panel wrote, “Millet has not shown the evidence is in fact newly discovered since the official in question testified at trial, nor has Millet shown that the evidence probably would produce a different result in the trial.”According to prosecutors, Millet handpicked Matherne to handle the $7.5million sale of the Whitney Plantation in Wallace. Millet received a$200,000 payoff from Matherne through another land transaction. FormosaPlastics abandoned the project in the early 1990’s.

Matherne testified for the government and was put on five years’ probation after pleading guilty to concealing knowledge of extortion.

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