Disbarred New Orleans lawyer indicted over alleged threat to court
February 05, 2010, 8:06PM
A federal grand jury on Friday indicted disbarred New Orleans lawyer Ashton O'Dwyer on one count of e-mailing a threat against a federal bankruptcy judge to an employee of the court last week, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten announced. The charge is a felony.
O'Dwyer, 62, has been detained by authorities since his arrest last Friday. after he allegedly sent the e-mail message to the court. In the offending message, O'Dwyer allegedly wrote: "Given the recent 'security breach' at 500 Poydras Street, a number of scoundrels might be at risk if I DO become homicidal." The threat was aimed at U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jerry A. Brown, Letten's office said.
The "breach" mentioned in the e-mail message was a reference to a recent incident in which four people are accused of entering the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Hale Boggs Federal Building on Poydras Street under false pretenses.
In addition to the threat, O'Dwyer also complained of being out of money and unable to pay for anti-depression medication, according to the indictment.
After O'Dwyer sent the message, the FBI arrested O'Dwyer at his home in the 6000 block of St. Charles Avenue and found a loaded handgun in his possession, said Sheila Thorne, FBI spokeswoman. U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore ordered O'Dwyer detained after a hearing Monday.
O'Dwyer was banned from federal court after his reportedly aggressive verbal attacks on federal judges Stanwood Duval and Ivan L.R. Lemelle. He also has been indefinitely suspended from practicing law in state court by the Louisiana Supreme Court, according to a March 30 order by that court.
O'Dwyer gained notoriety after Hurricane Katrina, when he boasted to journalists of living a "Lord of the Flies/Robinson Crusoe" existence at his home on St. Charles Avenue. He filed an early lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers shortly after Katrina on behalf of flood victims, and has since complained bitterly — and often in colorful language — about the way his case has been handled by certain federal judges, in particular Duval and Lemelle.
Letten's news release Friday made reference to O'Dwyer's earlier communiques, noting that the threatening message "was preceded by an escalating course of conduct."