Former editor pleads guilty

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 9, 2006

Sentencing Jan. 10 for child pornography charges

NEW ORLEANS – Leonard Gray, the former managing editor of L’Observateur, pled guilty this week to child porn charges in a court hearing before Judge Ivan Lemelle in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District.

Gray, who resigned his position at the newspaper shortly after being arrested, will be sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison, when he appears before Lemelle on January 10, 2007 for his sentencing appearance.

He also could be fined up to $250,000, and face a lifetime of probation.

Gray had originally pled not guilty to two charges of child porn at his indictment, but has now changed his plea in what sources to L’Observateur say will be a plea arrangement.

Gray was arrested in Slidell on August 17 by the FBI in Slidell, following an undercover investigation, where Gray reportedly went to Slidell expecting to meet a 16-year-old female, whom he had solicited sex from. The teen-ager had actually been the FBI during one of their online sting operations.

Gray began the discussions online in July, and continued them for over a month before suggesting the meeting in August.

The original charges of enticement led to the child pornography charges, after the FBI seized his computer and found further evidence.

Gray has been held in the St. Charles Parish Jail since then at the government’s request, as the investigation continued.

His personal computer was seized from his home following his arrest, and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said that they recovered computer equipment and digital media that contained images depicting the victimization of children.

L’Observateur Publisher Kevin Chiri has not commented on the matter.

The charges involve the mailing, shipping or receipt of material involving a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, the original indictment said.

Letten has asked that anyone in the River Region area who may have evidence associated with the case is asked to call his office at (504) 680-3000.

&#8220These cases are never completely over,” he said. &#8220We hope one arrest can lead to another possible arrest to stop the people involved in this kind of thing.”