District Attorney Lafayette

FBI, Justice Department raid Lafayette district attorney’s office Monday

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Investigators exit the main entrance Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Investigators exit the main entrance Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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An investigator walks inside Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Investigators exit the main entrance Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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A Department of Justice/FBI vehicle is parked outside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Monday, May 9, 2022, in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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The Lafayette Parish Courthouse is pictured Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Investigators’ vehicles are parked outside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Monday, May 9, 2022, in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Investigators’ vehicles are parked outside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Monday, May 9, 2022, in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Lights are on after-hours as federal investigators work inside Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Lights are on after-hours as federal investigators work inside Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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A Department of Justice/FBI vehicle is parked outside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Monday, May 9, 2022, in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK
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A light is on in a 6th floor window as federal investigators work inside Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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The Lafayette Parish Courthouse is pictured Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

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Lights are on after-hours as federal investigators work inside Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse in Lafayette, La.

  • STAFF PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

The District Attorney’s Office in Lafayette is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, including the FBI.

The investigation comes 10 years after the FBI raided the DA’s office in a bribery scheme that sent a former DA’s long-time secretary and a local private detective to federal prison.

Officials with the Justice Department and FBI were reportedly spotted at the parish courthouse on Buchanan Street in downtown Lafayette as early as 5 p.m. Monday. Two vehicles parked in front had placards inside their windshields identifying them as FBI and Justice Department.

The parish courthouse houses other offices besides the District Attorney’s Office, but two sources inside the DA’s office confimed to The Acadiana Advocate that the District Attorney’s Office is the focus of the federal investigation.

District Attorney Don Landry with the 15th Judicial District that includes Lafayette, Acadia and Vermilion parishes did not return a call for comment Monday night.

Federal investigators were seen Monday evening carrying cases from the courthouse to one of the vehicles. Earlier, they carried boxes of pizza and a case of water into the courthouse.

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Lights could be seen Monday night inside the closed courthouse, especially the fourth and sixth floors. The DA’s office is on the sixth floor.

The investigation comes 10 years after the District Attorney’s Office under DA Mike Harson was raided in a four-year long bribery scheme that took place from March 2008 until February 2012. Harson’s secretary, Barna Haynes, the wife of then Lafayette City Prosecutor Gary Haynes, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Robert Williamson, a private investigator, allegedly was the mastermind of the scheme in which clients, many with drunk driving arrests, paid him to have their cases fast-forwarded through the judicial system. Barna Haynes allegedly was a liaison between Wiliamson and others in the DA’s office to meet with a judge privately where they paid fines and had their cases immediately settled.

Williamson also allegedly bribed workers at a non-profit agency to forge documents saying his clients completed court-mandated community service when they had not.

U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote sentenced Williamson to 78 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $77,677 in restitution for Social Security fraud. He was released from prison early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams was sentenced to two years’ probation with six months of home confinement for his role in the scheme, while his former secretary, Denease Curry, received two years probation with 200 hours of community service. Curry allegedly worked with Haynes to coordinate the special pleas and Williams oversaw the special pleas for Williamson.

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Keith Stutes, an assistant district attorney at the time, headed an internal investigation into the bribery scheme. He resigned after submitting the report to Harson. Stutes defeated Harson for the DA’s job in the next election in 2014.

Investigators said Harson was not a target of the investigation and was not involved in the scheme. But federal prosecutors, in court filings, chastised Harson, saying the scheme was carried out without Harson’s knowledge because of a “lack of oversight and safeguards.”