1/21/2013Louisiana: Red Light Camera Adjudicator Guilty of Taking Bribes
Assistant district attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana pleads guilty to taking bribes in DUI cases.
An assistant district attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana who served as an adjudicator for red light camera cases pleaded guilty to bribery charges on Thursday. Greg Williams, 44, admitted before a federal judge that he allowed individuals accused of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) to escape misdemeanor and felony convictions on behalf of a co-conspirator who has not yet been charged. The unnamed individual, in turn, provided gifts and cash to Williams and Williams' secretary, Denease Curry, along with others in the district attorney's office.
"Given the high degree of authority and discretion of any district attorney's office in resolving criminal charges and the associated impacts on victims, the FBI remains fully committed to rooting out corruption that obstructs that process in any way," Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Orleans Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael Anderson said in a statement.
Lafayette's district attorney had set up a program of "immediate 894 pleas" for those accused of DUI who had completed 32 hours of community service, substance abuse programs and driver safety classes. Participants in this generous program received a special session in a judge's chamber, outside the normal court process, where charges are dismissed as long as no other violation is committed during a probationary period. In 2008, the district attorney's secretary, Barna Haynes, realized she could set up these hearings and began arranging them for the co-conspirator, who represented clients even though he was not actually a lawyer. The unnamed man charged up to $5000 for each acquittal, out of which he paid Haynes $500 per case for her assistance. Haynes collected more than $70,000 in cash until she was caught. Clients had paid hundreds of thousands for the special treatment allowing them to keep their driver's licenses and retain a clean record.
Beginning in January 2010, Williams realized what was going on and decided to cut himself into the deals. He used his own secretary to set up "immediate 894 sessions" with a judge and the co-conspirator. Curry collected eight cash payments of $200 for her participation. The co-conspirator rewarded Williams with autographed New Orleans Saints items, bicycles for Williams and his family, business suits, shoes and $500 in cash.
Williams faces five years in jail and a $250,000 fine under the plea deal he made with federal prosecutors.