Posted: Jan 17, 2013 3:07 PM by Tonya LaCoste
Updated: Feb 25, 2013 9:52 PM
The newest charges against employees who work in the Lafayette District Attorney's office claim an assistant district attorney and his secretary were aware of a bribery scheme that lined their pockets with cash and gave OWI defendants special treatment. Monday, Barna Haynes, DA Mike Harson's longtime office administrator and secretary pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy and receiving $55,000 in bribes. Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. His secretary, Denease Curry, 46, pleaded guilty to failing to report the bribery scheme. Williams and Curry resigned Wednesday, according to Harson.
According to U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley, in 2010, Williams and Curry became aware that Haynes and her co-conspirator were resolving cases, mainly OWI cases, without going through the normal process. The normal process involves what's called an "894 plea," which allows anyone charged with OWI to meet requirements and their case wouldn't be placed on any docket. After meeting requirements, like community service, a substance abuse program, and a driver safety program, a judge would acquit the defendant of the charge and driving privileges would be reinstated.
Haynes' co-conspirator has yet to be named, but he solicited clients and Haynes processed them through the 894 process without meeting the requirements and without the DA's approval, netting $500 for each case. Williams was the prosecuting attorney in all of the 894 sessions conducted for Haynes' co-conspirator's clients, and Curry assisted in coordinating those sessions. According to Finley, Williams and Curry were aware of defendants paying the co-conspirator for being allowed to plead in the 894 sessions. Curry was regularly contacted by Barna Haynes to help coordinate the "immediate 894 sessions," Finley said. According to court documents, they also knew the co-conspirator was not licensed to practice law.
"At the request of Barna Haynes, Curry would contact the district judge's chambers for the purpose of setting the session, give the judge's staff the names of the OWI defendants who were to plead guilty, and obtain a date and time for the upcoming session," Finley said. Curry would then inform Haynes' co-conspirator of a date and time for the 894 session, according to court records. Finley said Curry would regularly see and interact with the co-conspirator and on days when defendants met with him, he would escort them into Williams' office where Williams would explain what to expect during the 894 session.
Curry received a series of $200 payments and talked to Haynes about it, and Haynes told Curry she also received payments from the co-conspirator. "Curry received approximately eight payments from coconspirator #1 totaling $1,600. In 2010 and 2011, co-conspirator #1 gave Williams a series of gifts and a cash payment as a reward for his participation in the "immediate 894 sessions," Finley said.
The gifts included an autographed New Orleans Saints hat, bicycles and clothing for Williams and family members, and the co-conspirator gave Williams $500 in cash.
Sentencing will be at a later date. Williams faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Curry faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, or both.
Click here for Williams' bill of information
Click here for Williams' plea agreement
Click here for William's stipulated factual basis
Click here for Curry's bill of information
Click here for Curry's plea agreement
Click here for Curry's stipulated factual basis