Bribery trial involving Lafayette Parish DA's Office delayed until after Nov. 4 election



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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The federal bribery trial of the alleged mastermind behind a scheme involving the Lafayette Parish District Attorney's Office has been delayed until after the Nov. 4 election.

Lafayette private investigator Robert Williamson is accused of soliciting cash fees from drivers charged with operating while intoxicated, then using some of the money to pay off employees of the District Attorney's Office to secure favorable plea deals.

Five others already have pleaded guilty in the federal probe, including three former employees of the District Attorney's Office.

The Advertiser reports (http://tinyurl.com/ox2lc7o ) the trial was pushed back to Dec. 8.

A trial that would have delved into a bribery scandal at the District Attorney's Office just as District Attorney Mike Harson faced re-election on Nov. 4 has been delayed until December.

Williamson had been set for trial on Oct. 20 in a case that would have played out in the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

Harson is being challenged by retired prosecutor Keith Stutes — the incumbent's first contested election in 20 years.

In a ruling filed into the court record this week, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote pushed the trial date back to Dec. 8, citing the need to give Williamson's attorneys more time to work through the evidence, which includes thousands of recorded telephone calls.

Foote had expressed concerns during a meeting with attorneys earlier this month about potential difficulty finding an impartial jury in Lafayette, considering the publicity surrounding the case and a trial set to begin just two weeks before the Nov. 4 election.


Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com

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