Ex-New Orleans politician guilty of racketeering

July 25, 2011 - 8:13 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans councilwoman connected to a corruption-tainted ex-Louisiana congressman has been convicted of conspiring to loot more than $1 million from charities run with taxpayer money.

Federal jurors on Monday convicted 56-year-old Renee Gill Pratt of one count of racketeering and she faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 26.

It closes a chapter on the years-long prosecutions of allies of William Jefferson, the former longtime congressman from New Orleans and the first black from Louisiana since Reconstruction to sit in Congress.

Jefferson was convicted in 2009 on corruption charges over his African business ties. He's free pending appeals.

Gill Pratt insisted Monday that she is innocent. She is free until sentencing.

Prosecutors say she and Jefferson family members used charity money for themselves. William Jefferson was not charged in the case.