Area residents charged with major offenses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002


LAPLACE – River Parishes residents have been making news of the wrong kind recently in the greater New Orleans area, with two St. Rose men charged in a Kenner slaying and a LaPlace man indicted in an FBI extortion investigation in New Orleans City Hall.

Craig London and Brandon Robertson, both of St. Rose, were booked after an 17-month investigation into the March 2001 shooting death of 69-year-old Harriet Braun.

London, 18, of 141 Second St., and Robertson, 20, of 617 Mockingbird Lane, are each charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery. Police investigators said the suspects entered Braun’s business, Accurate Auto Title, at 1516 Williams Blvd. around 6 p.m. on March 13, 2001 as she was preparing to close up for the day.

The suspects allegedly shot her and made off with less than $300. The gun used was located this summer in a St. Charles Parish canal. A third suspect, Whitney Wallace Jr. of LaPlace, was arrested in May 2001 but was released without being charged.

London and Robertson have criminal convictions, including aggravated battery for the former and illegal possession of stolen items for the latter.

In a separate incident, Wallace Schief, 49, of LaPlace, faces federal charges of extortion for allegedly demanding and receiving at least $20,000 in kickbacks from an electrical contractor in New Orleans.

The indictment is the first in a two-year undercover probe conducted by the FBI in New Orleans of allegations of graft in New Orleans City Hall. Acting-U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said more arrests would follow in coming months.

Schief worked for the city for 23 years and allegedly misused his position as Chief Engineer for the city’s Property Management Department. The office administers maintenance for buildings and property.

Schief resigned Tuesday from that position.

Investigators said he had demanded payoffs from G&M Electric Sales Co. Inc., telling employees to inflate unit prices or bills for other items never delivered, and then pay him in cash. If convicted, Schief could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and face a fine of $250,000. Letten said G&M Electric’s president, William Pappas, would likely face federal charges as well.

Letten said in a news release that prosecution of this case demonstrates the ongoing commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to cooperate with the mayor and citizens of New Orleans “to eliminate the corruption which for too long has diverted government funds into the pockets of corrupt public servants and others who would exploit their influence and positions to the detriment of the citizens.”