Sources close to the federal probe into 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson’s office tell IND Monthly that the FBI has concluded its investigation of an extortion and bribery scheme involving the office’s handling of OWI cases (and possibly other types of cases). The matter is now in the hands of U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley, whose office has been active in the investigation.

 

Both Harson and City Prosecutor Gary Haynes, who handles most OWIs issued by the Lafayette Police Department, were investigated but will not face any federal charges, our sources say. Through a public records request, The Advocate found that Harson’s office took over dozens of OWI cases typically handled by the city prosecutor.

Because the case involves the prosecution of local attorneys who were part of the alleged scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice has to sign off on it. Several local attorneys were investigated in the matter, and some were among the undisclosed number of people who received letters from the U.S. Attorney's Office offering plea deals. KLFY obtained a copy of the letter and posted it here.

A number of guilty pleas are expected in the case, according to our sources, but it remains unclear who plans to cut a deal and when any of those pleas will be entered. No one has been charged in the case.

Haynes’ wife, Barna, Harson’s office administrator for more than three decades, resigned Aug. 28. She had been on unpaid leave since March 12, a couple of weeks after the feds came calling.

On Feb. 27, the feds searched Barna Haynes’ office and that of ADA Greg Williams. On the same day, they searched the 311 Arnould Blvd. home of private investigator Robert Williamson, which is also the listed address of his PI business, Secret Cajun Man Ltd. All three, Barna Haynes, Williams and Williamson, have been considered targets of the federal investigation.

Read more about PI Williamson's checkered past here.

Williamson's attorney, Mike Small, was adamant that his client in not among those negotiating a plea deal. "He is not in negotiations to enter a plea," Small tells IND Monthly. The Alexandria attorney declined to comment on any specific allegations the feds have made against his client.

Harson_and_Stutes

District Attorney Mike Harson won't likely be charged in the federal extortion and bribery probe into his office's handling of OWI cases, but it remains unclear what former ADA Keith Stutes' investigation into the office uncovered. That matter remains in the hands of Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Harson, however, may not be off the hook, as the outcome of the investigation is sure to paint a picture of a DA clearly asleep at the wheel — perhaps even one intentionally indifferent to the goings on at his office. And the findings of former Assistant District Attorney Keith Stutes’ internal probe of the office — one Stutes took upon himself to conduct after the federal investigation began — remains in the hands of state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

“The matter is still pending,” says Amanda Papillion Larkins, the AG’s director of communications.

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