- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

GRETNA, La. (AP) - A state judge has ruled that a former state senator convicted of money laundering should not be allowed to run for a House seat he once held, but his name was left on the October ballot pending an appeal.

On Friday, 24th Judicial District Judge Stephen Enright ruled that Derrick Shepherd should be disqualified from running for a House seat in Jefferson Parish, according to the New Orleans Advocate (http://bit.ly/1MiNwLp ) .

Shepherd pleaded guilty in 2008 to money laundering, a felony. He served two years in prison.

Shepherd contends that a 1997 state constitutional amendment that made it illegal for convicted felons to run for office for 15 years after completing their sentence was missing a provision passed by the Louisiana Legislature and is therefore null and void.

Enright agreed to let Shepherd’s name stay on the Oct. 24 ballot pending judicial decisions next week.

On Tuesday, a state district judge in Baton Rouge will hold a hearing in a separate case on whether to strike down the constitutional provision, while Shepherd’s appeal of Friday’s ruling, which will be taken up by the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal by Wednesday, will revisit the state’s challenge to his candidacy and the appropriate timetable for deciding it.

“I’m optimistic. That’s the best word for it,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said he “deserves a second chance,” as a flier he handed out at the court hearing said. “Everybody can relate to that,” he said, adding that his candidacy could serve as an inspiration “for all the other people out there who need a second chance.”

He pleaded guilty of taking $140,000 from the sale of fake jail bonds.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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