At least two guilty pleas related to the federal bribery probe of District Attorney Mike Harson’s office’s handling of OWIs and other criminal cases were postponed this week, according to sources close to the investigation.
|According to this screen shot, captured early Tuesday morning,
DA Mike Harson's longtime office administrator, Barna Haynes, was scheduled to plead
guilty Monday in the ongoing federal bribery investigation into the office's handling
of OWIs and other cases. Haynes' name was removed from the schedule Tuesday after
IND Monthly inquired about the guilty plea; our sources say another
secretary in the DA's office, Denease Curry, was scheduled to plead guilty this week as well.
Her name did not appear on the schedule. Our sources say both pleas were postponed.
IND Monthly confirmed and reported Tuesday that Harson’s longtime office administrator, Barna Haynes, was scheduled to plead guilty to an undisclosed charge Monday and has since learned that Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams’ secretary, Denease Curry, will also enter a guilty plea.
Haynes and Williams, along with private investigator Robert Williamson, are all believed to be targets of the bribery investigation. The feds searched the offices of Haynes and Williams and the home of Williamson on Feb. 27 of last year.
Sources tell IND Monthly Curry planned to resign this week and didn’t intend to be at work, but when her guilty plea was postponed — it’s unclear why the feds delayed the matter — she returned to work.
The IND spoke by phone with Curry at the DA’s office Thursday morning about whether she had resigned or would be resigning as result of the investigation. “If I answered the phone I must still be employed,” she says. “That’s all I’m going to say.” She then hung up the phone.
Curry’s boss, Williams, is also expected to cop a plea. Williams handles the office’s traffic cases; OWI prosecutions are believed to be the main focus of the investigation though not the only types of cases the feds have been looking into.
The DA’s office closed early Thursday due to heavy rains, and IND Monthly was unable to reach Williams for comment.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley's office sent target letters to an undisclosed number of people, including local attorneys, in October, offering the opportunity to plead guilty to a single count bill of information rather than face grand jury indictment (IND Monthly has since learned that at least one letter was rescinded and that person will not be charged). Typically, only felony charges are brought before a grand jury, so it's likely those accepting the deal would be charged with a felony in the bill of information. If that's the deal offered to local attorneys like Williams, it is highly likely the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board would recommend disbarment.
Citing sources, IND Monthly reported Jan. 2 that attorney Luke Edwards was among those who received a target letter. Edwards did not respond to requests for comment.
IND Monthly's sources say the guilty pleas will be entered next week.