Arrested La. judge involved in big cases

May 3, 2009 at 7:51 PM

COVINGTON, La., May 3 (UPI) -- A suburban New Orleans judge arrested on corruption charges had been involved in some of St. Bernard Parish's most infamous legal cases, observers say.

Judge Wayne Cresap, 62, was taken into custody last month and charged with allegedly pocketing payoffs from two lawyers in return for granting their criminal clients bail on less-restrictive signature bonds, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Sunday.

Cresap was no stranger to controversial cases in the Louisiana parish, the newspaper said.

For instance, in 2002 and 2003 he was at the center of a notorious case in which litigants battled over the estate of Arlene Meraux, the heiress of St. Bernard land baron Joseph Meraux, estimated to be worth $250 million. He was rebuked by the Louisiana Supreme Court for his behavior in a massive, politically charged case that pitted the state against oyster harvesters in 2002, the Times-Picayune said.

"He was never one to shy away from those controversial type of cases," said attorney John Finckbeiner Jr., who moved his practice to the French Quarter after 2005 but tries numerous cases in St. Bernard Parish.

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