Former N.O. rail official faces 18 felony charges

Published: July 21, 2011

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Public Belt Railway’s former general manager, Jim Bridger, reportedly is charged by the state with 18 felony counts of theft from the 15-mile city-owned railroad as well as malfeasance while on the job.

The UTU represents many of the railroads’ workers.

Bridger entered a “not guilty” plea and was released on $180,000 bond to await trial, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

Details of the charges were not released, but prosecutors told the newspaper each of the theft charges “involved thousands of dollars.”

The newspaper reported that “at least five of the felony counts appear to relate” to Bridger’s loaning out to friends luxury railcars owned by the railroad. He allegedly spent $3 million in city money to buy and restore antique Pullman cars and purchase luxury SUVs.

The newspaper said federal prosecutors also are investigating Bridger.

Bridger, maintaining his innocence of criminal charges, was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “If I have one regret, it’s that someone didn’t put the bridle on me earlier and say, ‘Hold on, this is not Long Island, this is not Union Pacific.'”