Richard Webster Leche


Richard Leche portrait
  • Born: New Orleans, 1898
  • Education: Warren Easton High School, Tulane University, Loyola Law School
  • Career: Lawyer, Campaign Manager, Judge, Governor, Lobbyist
  • Died: New Orleans, 1965

Richard Leche grew up in New Orleans and attended Tulane University before resigning to volunteer for military service in World War I. While attending an officers' training camp, he contracted influenza and was transferred first to a camp in Illinois and then to a program at Yale University. Before Leche was ever assigned to active duty, the war had ended. Leche returned to New Orleans where he attended Loyola Law School.

Leche became active in politics after passing the bar in 1922. He managed Huey P. Long's U.S. Senate campaign and later served as legal advisor for the O.K. Allen administration. In 1926, Leche was initiated, passed, and raised to Master Mason in the America Lodge No. 407. Leche served as Steward for the lodge in 1927. Before running for governor, he served as a judge on the New Orleans Court of Appeals for 2 years.

As governor, Leche continued the bridge and highway program started by Huey P. Long. He also offered tax exemptions for new businesses, created the Department of Commerce and Industry, and supported a 1% sales tax. Leche invited suspicion when he began purchasing lavish accessories, such as a yacht and a private hunting reserve, on a modest governor's salary. This sort of spending caused a federal investigation which eventually led to charges of corruption and fraud. Before being charged, Leche resigned from his office due to poor health in 1939.

Leche was convicted of mail fraud for his involvement in a scheme selling trucks to the Highway Department. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Leche was demitted from America Lodge No. 407 in 1941, and in 1945, the Committee on Appeals and Grievances for the Grand Lodge of Louisiana recommended that the proper constituent lodge be ordered to try the former governor. Leche was paroled after serving 5 years and later pardoned by President Truman in 1953. He returned to Louisiana successfully seeking readmission to the Louisiana bar, and returned to politics as a lobbyist. Leche died in New Orleans in 1965.

Click on thumbnails below to view a full-size image:

Member card, America Lodge No. 407

Master Mason, America Lodge No. 407, Work & Returns, 1926

Steward, America Lodge No. 407, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1927

Order of the Eastern Star Convention, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1938

Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Deleware, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1938

Somoza Banquet Program Cover, 1939

Somoza Banquet Program, 1939

Demitted, America Lodge No. 407, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1942

Committee recommendation regarding conviction, Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1945