May 26, 2010 / 10:07 PM / 8 years ago

Four plead to misdemeanor in senator phone case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four men pleaded guilty to entering Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans under false pretenses to secretly tape her staff, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Among those pleading to the misdemeanor charges was James O’Keefe, who became known for posing as a pimp and filming workers with the liberal grassroots group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as they gave him advice on how to flout housing laws.

That incident attracted a big audience after being posted on YouTube. It forced ACORN to disband its formal national operations and reorganize its state chapters.

In the Landrieu incident, two of O’Keefe’s associates, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, dressed as telephone repairmen, entered her New Orleans office in January under the pretense of performing repairs, the Justice Department said.

O’Keefe had gone into the office just before them, telling staff he was waiting for a friend. Instead, he secretly recorded the conversations. A fourth individual, Stan Dai, waited outside to help if needed, prosecutors said.

The four were later arrested after Basel and Flanagan tried to gain access to the main telephone system for Landrieu’s office, but were confronted by General Services Administration employees who manage government facilities.

O’Keefe was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and was placed on three years of probation. The other three were each ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, perform 75 hours of community service and placed on two years probation, the Justice Department said.

Flanagan is the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Alan Elsner

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