Thu, Feb 28, 2013
Robert Williamson, the key figure in the OWI bribery scandal at the District Attorney’s Office, was indicted today on federal charges including one count of conspiracy, six counts of bribery for operating a pay-for-plea scheme, one count of Social Security fraud and one count of making a false statement.
According to J. Michael Small, Williamson’s attorney, Williamson will plead not guilty to the charges.
If convicted on all charges, Williamson faces a maximum of 50 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Federal officials also will seek forfeiture of any property and money derived from the bribery scheme, including more than $22,000 in cash and money orders seized by the FBI from Williamson’s home on Feb. 27, 2012.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley, flanked by two FBI agents and two assistant U.S. attorneys, this afternoon addressed the news media about the indictment of Williamson, 64, a Lafayette private investigator.
The federal grand jury indictment comes in the wake of guilty pleas by five individuals, including three who worked in the District Attorney’s Office and two who worked for a nonprofit agency. They agreed to assist federal officials with the investigation and prosecution.
Officials allege Williamson paid Barna Haynes, the former secretary to District Attorney Mike Harson; former Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams; and Williams’ former secretary Denease Curry for the favorable resolution of driving while intoxicated cases on behalf of his clients using the immediate 894 process.
The indictment alleged Williamson paid Elaine Crump and Sandra Degeyter, former employees of Acadiana Outreach Center, for falsifying documents certifying his clients completed community service work when they had not.
Williamson also is accused in the indictment of obtaining fraudulent driver safety training certificates that certified his clients had completed court-mandated driver improvement programs when they had not.
The indictment also accuses Williamson of making a false statement to a federal agent for falsely telling an FBI agent that he never paid anyone from the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for anything when he did.
“Given the number of people who have plead guilty and are cooperating with the government, the indictment against Mr. Williamson came as no surprise,” Small said Thursday in a written statement to The Daily Advertiser. “All of those folks are clearly hoping to lighten their loads by implicating Robert and agreeing to testify against him.
“Every single person who pled guilty cut a deal with the prosecution and ended up with a written plea bargain. There is good reason why the law provides that the testimony of such witnesses must be weighed with greater caution than the testimony of ordinary witnesses,” Small said.
Source: The Advertiser