NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – A former New Orleans, Louisiana judge once accused of sexual harassment is now facing allegations that he was involved in racketeering and a criminal auto theft organization which stole vehicles from a neighboring parish.
Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge David Bell, 47-years-old, was arrested by law enforcement after investigators confirmed that Bell co-owned a scrap yard in the city that was used by the auto theft ring to get rid of vehicles.
Bell’s reported involvement with the criminal organization allegedly allowed for a crew to “steal pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, cars, vans, four-wheelers, tires and rims from residents” and then dispose of the vehicles when finished with them, according to NOLA.com.
According to prosecutors, Bell paid the men who physically stole the vehicles while making money off scrap metal, parts or pieces leftover.
“Investigators estimate the group was responsible for 32 percent of the vehicle thefts in the parish, roughly $2.5 million worth of losses in 2014 and 2015, alone, according to court records,” NOLA.com reported.
The crime ring was allegedly stealing cars in the city’s neighboring parish from as far back as May 2009 to as early as May 2016.
Bell said previously that he was never involved in the criminal organization, despite prosecutors saying months ago that an “unnamed ex-politician” was interfering with investigators to cover up the car theft scheme.
Back in May, when asked about the criminal organization, Bell said “I have no knowledge of it. I don’t have a scrap business in the state of Louisiana or any other state. I’m not affiliated with those individuals in any way, at all.”
But, this is not Bell’s first run-in with the law. Bell previously served as an Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge when he was elected in 2004. In 2010, though, Bell was forced to resign from the position when “six courthouse employees accused him of sexual harassment,” according to NOLA.com. The civil lawsuit by two of the employees at the courthouse at the time was settled by Bell.
After surrendering to police on the racketeering and auto theft charges, Bell was released on $35,000 bond.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.