Former Jefferson Parish councilman Chris Roberts pleads not guilty in federal court

Updated: May. 20, 2019 at 3:08 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Former Jefferson parish council member Chris Roberts entered not guilty pleas on a 29-count indictment in federal court Monday afternoon (May 20).

Roberts is accused of a total of 22 counts of wire fraud and seven counts of tax evasion. The federal indictment came just 10 days after he abruptly stepped down from the council.

The 20-year politician was flanked by his parents as he sat inside federal magistrate court Monday, listening to prosecutors summarized the counts against him, which claim Roberts under-reported his income to the IRS and then tried to amend the returns when he found out about the federal investigation.

Roberts is accused of making a number of fraudulent transactions during a six-year period beginning in 2010. Prosecutors said during that time, Roberts funneled money from various businesses he was involved in, including a landscape company, into his own pocket.

On the way into court, Roberts’ attorney Eddie Castaing stressed the charges have nothing to do with his client’s two decades of public service.

During the 15-minute hearing, Magistrate Judge Michael North ordered several restriction be imposed ahead of Roberts’ trial. Among the restrictions Roberts faces, he had to hand over his passport and agree not to travel outside the U.S. Additionally, North prohibited Roberts from entering any gambling establishments.

After, Castaing said he will learn more about gambling restrictions during the trial, which is scheduled for later this summer.

"All that will come out at some time. [Roberts] agreed with every restriction put on him by the court and we’re ready to move on,” Castaing said.

North set Roberts’ bond for $50,000 and scheduled his trial for July 29, which will be overseen by Federal Judge Jay Zainey.

Roberts declined to comment Monday.

Former Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts was in federal magistrate court Monday for his first appearance on a 29 count indictment.

Defense attorney Eddie Castaing said his client was not guilty on all counts.

The magistrate judge approved a $50,000 bond for Roberts. He is prohibited from gambling establishments.

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