Sentence too harsh for ex-Ouachita officials

Published 12:15 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

MONROE, La. (AP) — The case of a former Ouachita Parish official is returning to court after the state Supreme Court ordered Woodson McGuffee be resentenced.

Prosecutors wanted McGuffee’s original sentence reinstated after an appeals courts ruled the three-year sentence in the former assistant parish administrator’s malfeasance case was excessive. But the Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ request.

McGuffee was convicted two years ago of malfeasance in office; he was accused of having a Public Works employee remove trees from his Union Parish property in 2000.

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An appeals court later decided the offense did not merit a sentence approaching the five-year maximum allowed under law. The court did not recommend a sentence, but said it would not affirm anything more than one year without hard labor.

McGuffee and seven others were indicted in 2003 in connection with a public corruption probe of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. Seven were convicted at trial or through guilty pleas. The other, former Police Juror King Dawson, wasn’t prosecuted; the state Attorney General’s Office cited lack of credible evidence.