Ex-judge G. Thomas Porteous, impeached by U.S. Senate, dies
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge from Louisiana whose career ended with an impeachment and removal from the bench has died.
Leitz-Egan Funeral Home said G. Thomas Porteous Jr. died Sunday. He was 74. A memorial Mass is set for Thursday in Metairie, according to the funeral home.
Porteous served 10 years on Louisiana’s 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna before he became a federal judge, appointed by President Bill Clinton, in 1994. His career ended as the result of a long-running FBI investigation into the Gretna courthouse, dubbed “Operation Wrinkled Robe.”
Though he never faced criminal charges stemming from the probe, which ran from 1999 to 2007, the U.S. Senate in 2010 found that Porteous took money from attorneys and bail bondsmen with business before the court, lied in his 2001 personal bankruptcy filing and hid the corruption in statements to the Senate during his confirmation for the federal judicial post, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
The Senate convicted Porteous of four articles of impeachment and removed him from office before he would have been eligible for a $174,000 annual pension for life.
Porteous was the last person to be convicted in a Senate impeachment vote and one of just eight federal judges ever thrown off the bench.
A New Orleans native, Porteous received his undergraduate and law degrees from LSU and worked at the state Attorney General’s Office before going into private practice in Gretna and working at the District Attorney’s Office. He became city attorney of Harahan before his election as a state judge in 1984.
While on the federal bench, Porteous took a one-year disability leave after losing his house to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. His wife, Carmella Giardina Porteous, died four months later. They had four children.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Marion Edwards, a retired state judge who also was Porteous’ law partner, recalled Porteous as “one of the more talented young lawyers I’ve had the opportunity to work with.”
“It’s just a really sad day for me,” Edwards said. “To have the talent that he did and be as intelligent as he was and have that develop toward the end of his career was very sad.”
Former state Sen. Danny Martiny also practiced law with Porteous, and his son married Porteous’ daughter. Martiny said the former judge was “one of the most talented trial lawyers I’ve seen, very quick on his feet, very confident.”