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Former school board member sentenced for drugs

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DESOTO PARISH, La. -

United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that former DeSoto Parish School Board member Bartholomew Claiborne, 31, of Mansfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote, to one year and one day in prison and three years supervised release for distributing cocaine.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Claiborne distributed cocaine and other controlled substances on 14 separate occasions between Oct. 11, 2011 and July 12, 2012. Authorities used surveillance methods to observe Claiborne selling cocaine.

"As an elected official, Bartholomew Claiborne swore to uphold the law, and by his own admission, failed to do so," Finley stated. "He has failed the children and parents of the school board district where he served as a role model. We hope this case sends a message that public officials are not above the law. We will continue to prosecute those who violate federal laws. I would like to thank all of the federal, state and local agencies who participated in the investigation."

Claiborne was the first to be indicted as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) "Operation Limpiar Casa," an operation targeting drug trafficking in the Mansfield area. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office, the Mansfield Police Department, and the Tri-Parish Task Force which includes DeSoto, Sabine and Red River parishes, participate in the OCDETF program and conducted the operation.

The OCDETF program is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation's primary tool for disrupting and dismantling
major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook prosecuted the case.

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