Covering Louisiana

Mar 5, 2013 11:45 AM by Press Release

Government consents to new trial for former Monroe City Councilmen

The U.S. Attorney's Office has informed United States District Judge Donald E. Walter that it consents to a new trial in United States v. Robert "Red" Stevens and Arthur Gilmore, Jr., two former Monroe City Councilmen indicted for racketeering and extortion. Thereafter, the Court continued the evidentiary hearing scheduled for March 4, 2013, and entered an order today scheduling a new trial for April 22, 2013, in Shreveport. Stevens and Gilmore had sought a new trial based on allegations of misconduct by the former lead Assistant United States Attorney and FBI agent. U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley stated: "While I do not believe that the jury's guilty verdict in this case was the result of any misconduct, I believe that it is important that the public have confidence in the integrity of the prosecutions brought by the United States.

Therefore, I directed the prosecutors in this case to consent to a new trial even though the trial had been completed and the case was on appeal. We chose to disclose the allegations of misconduct to the Court and to all defense attorneys because we want every prosecution to be based on fairness. The allegations at issue first came to light in June 2012 when defense counsel in the case of United States v. Royce Toney, Michael Davis, made allegations of misconduct on the part of Assistant United States Attorney Mignonne Griffing. My office reviewed the allegations, and pursuant to established protocol, an investigation was opened by the Department of Justice. In the meantime, in order to ensure the integrity of the prosecution of former Sheriff Toney, I removed AUSA Griffing from the case and assigned a different prosecutor in my office to take it over.

Based on the totality of the evidence and the testimony of the witnesses, the prosecution was ultimately resolved with a guilty plea to nine misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. This resolution was based on the most readily provable offenses, not because of any allegations of misconduct. The plea agreement addressed Sheriff Toney's criminal conduct and was in the interest of justice. The Government believed then, as it does now, that this was the fairest resolution to this case in light of all of the evidence. On August 2, 2012, Royce Toney appeared before U.S. District Judge Robert G. James and knowingly and voluntarily pled guilty with advice of his counsel. Our goal in every case that we prosecute is to ensure the integrity of the prosecution.

My office, along with the appropriate offices at the Department of Justice, will continue to investigate any and all allegations of misconduct to determine whether or not there is any merit to them, and at the same time will take all necessary steps to preserve the integrity of all prosecutions brought by the United States." During the trial set for April 22, 2013, Mr. Stevens and Mr. Gilmore will face the same charges as returned by the Grand Jury in June of 2010. Specifically, each defendant was named in a two-count indictment charging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1962©, and the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951. If convicted, both men face a maximum sentence on Count 1, RICO, of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The Hobbs Act contained in Count 2 is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. # #

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