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Nov 3, 2010 9:42 PM by Alison Haynes

Former Avoyelles Parish sheriff, others acquitted

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Former Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Bill Belt, his wife and his sister have been acquitted of all counts in their federal conspiracy trial.
Belt, his wife, Tracy and his sister, Julie Bernard, were found not guilty Wednesday afternoon of alleged crimes related to the operation of a pay-phone system in the parish jail from 1988 to 2003.
The Belts had been charged with conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud. Bernard faced charges of conspiracy, lying to the FBIand obstruction of justice.
The Town Talk reports that U.S. District Judge Dee Drell, the defendants and their attorneys, and federal prosecutors spent part of Tuesday in a conference room away from family and others in the courtroom. The jury was excused for the day. The defense had asked Drell for an acquittal due to insufficient evidence, but the trial
continued Wednesday.

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