Fri, Feb 22, 2013
Three former district attorney’s office employees under the leadership of Mike Harson are scheduled for sentencing in August for their roles in what officials describe as a pay-for-privilege bribery scheme according to The Advertiser.
U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Foote scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8 for the three, who pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in the bribery scheme while they were employed in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Lafayette.
Barna Haynes, the former office administrator and secretary to District Attorney Mike Harson, is set for sentencing at 11 a.m. Denease Curry, former secretary to former assistant district attorney Greg Williams, is scheduled for sentencing at 11:30 a.m., and Williams is scheduled for sentencing at 1 p.m.
Haynes and Williams both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to accept bribes. Each faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Curry pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony for failing to report the bribery scheme. She faces up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
According to court records, former Acadiana Outreach Center employee Elaine Crumb is not yet set for sentencing. She pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony after admitting she helped another person or persons forge documents that falsely showed offenders had completed volunteer community service work at the agency in fulfillment of probation requirements.
The FBI is investigating the bribery scheme in which some misdemeanor offenders allegedly paid for the so-called “immediate 894″ process that allowed some OWI offenders to wipe their records clean.
A provision in the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure, article 894, allows a person charged with a misdemeanor to plead guilty with the understanding that the conviction will be set aside if special terms of probation, such as community service or substance abuse treatment, are met.
Harson, with concurrence from a judge, implemented an immediate 894 process in which someone charged with drunk driving could provide proof they completed the probation requirements before a plea was entered before a judge.
They then were allowed to meet with the judge in private to enter the immediate 894 plea. The judge, in one day, could accept the plea and proof that probation requirements were completed, dismiss the conviction and reinstate driving privileges. A process that usually takes months, even up to a year, was reduced to a few weeks.
The FBI investigation is continuing in the bribery case. Federal prosecutors have said Harson is not a target of the investigation.
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