Feb 28, 2013 11:36 PM by Erin Steuber
Today, a federal grand jury indicted a sixth person on charges related to the bribery scheme at DA Mike Harson's office.
Five people have already pled guilty in this ongoing case tied to the 894 process, in which employees at the DA's office admitted to taking cash to get OWI cases dismissed. The "894 process" allows people charged with certain crimes, like OWI's, to have their cases dismissed after meeting requirements like community service.
Now, Robert Williamson is being indicted on nine charges, including making false statements to a federal agent. Federal prosecutors essentially say Williamson was the ring-leader of this scheme. He worked in Lafayette as a private investigator, and prosecutors say he was the one bribing employees with cash and gifts in order to get favorable treatment for his clients.
According to the indictment, Williamson was part of the conspiracy from March of 2008 until February 2012, soliciting thousands of dollars from clients, in exchange promising them a favorable outcome to their cases.
"Robert Williamson also bribed employees at the district attorney's office, to include Barna Haynes, Greg Williams and Denease Curry, as a reward for coordinating, and facilitating, the immediate 894 sessions for clients in his OWI cases. Williamson also bribed current and past members, of Acadiana Outreach, Elaine Crump and Sandra Degeyter, in return for creating false, and fraudulent, Acadiana Outreach community service certificates," said U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley.
Williamson is being charged with one count of conspiracy; Six counts of bribery for operating a pay-for-plea scheme; One count of Social Security fraud for claiming Social Security payments while not reporting income from the bribery scheme; And one count of making false statements to a federal agent.
"Specifically that he had never paid anyone from the 15th JDC, district attorney's office, anything, when in fact he had paid money to employees at the 15th JDC on numerous occassions for their assistance in the resolution of certain matters," said Finley.
In addition, Williamson will be forced to forfeit $22,855 related to the bribes.
"We're going to follow wherever the evidence in this case takes us. If that mean additional bills of information, additional indictments, we're going to do that, because I think we owe the citizens of this community," said Finley.
The U.S. Attorney's Office stresses the investigation is still ongoing, more arrests could be on the way. Williamson could face up to 75 years in prison.
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