New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson was recognized and honored today by Crimestoppers, an independent non-profit organization that works with law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend criminals.
The James J. Coleman, Sr. Corporate Partner Award was presented to Mr. Benson, who recently celebrated the 25th season of his ownership of the Saints by winning the Lombardi Trophy, and in return, brought a Super Bowl championship to his hometown of New Orleans. Benson was bestowed with the award bearing Coleman's name in recognition for his embracement of the Crimestoppers program and his consistent demonstrations of philanthropic work in the local communities.
Mr. Benson was honored at the 25th Annual Crimestoppers Awards Luncheon this afternoon. Lee Zurick, the lead investigative reporter and an anchor for WVUE-FOX 8, emceed the event. Also in attendance at the luncheon were: the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, who gave the invocation; Mr. James M. Lapeyre, Jr., the Crimestoppers Luncheon Co-Chair, Mr. James H. Hudson, who delivered the keynote address; The Honorable Mitch Landrieu, The Mayor-elect, City of New Orleans, Mrs. Darlene Cusanza, President & CEO of Crimestoppers, and Mr. Billy Kullman, Crimestoppers Immediate Past Chairman.
In addition to Benson's honor, several other prestigious awards were given out, including The Sheriff Harry Lee Crimestoppers Criminal Justice Award to Honorable Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. Mr. Colagero, Jr. was honored for his lifetime work as a public servant, fighting crime and ensuring public safety following 36 years as a Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Mr. Gregory Rusovich of Transoceanic Trading & Development was honored with The George Loker Community Service Award for his dedication of countless hours to the mission of Crimestoppers and to the safety of his community.
The Honorable Marion F. Edwards, Judge, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, was recognized with the Distinguished Service in Criminal Justice Award for excellence in alternative sentencing programs.
The Crimestoppers Media Award was presented to retired WDSU Investigative reporterMr. Richard Angelico for his lifetime achievement as a reporter.
Local law enforcement awards were also presented to the Kenner Police Department's Cyber Crime Unit, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office for their "Operation Krewe of Dope" program, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office "Cops and Clergy Coalition", and the New Orleans Police Department's Liaison Officer Janssen Valencia and Superintendent Warren J. Riley for the Hispanic Community Outreach Initiative.
Crimestoppers provides reward payments for anonymous information that leads to the arrest and indictment of criminals. Since its inception in 1981 through 2009, Crimestoppers has solved over 10,400 crimes and paid $1,550,000 to tipsters. In the last seven years alone, Crimestoppers has solved 416 murders. Crimestoppers serves the entire New Orleans metropolitan area, as well as the surrounding seven river parishes.