Gunter’s take on last week’s Star Chamber proceedings where former Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney was given a light tap on the wrist – all done behind closed doors.
The government had 23 counts against former Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney. They spent from 2009 to present investigating the numerous accusations. How much did that cost?
Then after an all-day negotiating session Thursday at the Monroe federal courthouse, the government allowed Toney to plead guilty to nine misdemeanor counts of accessing a protected computer. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m. Each misdemeanor count is punishable by up to one-year in jail and up to $100,000 in fines.
With no past criminal record, a safe bet is that Toney will walk and be placed on probation for two or three years, and probably unsupervised. Then Toney can go about his business and enjoy his $140,000 annual retirement.
Did the citizens of Ouachita Parish (the taxpayers), get justice in this case? I would certainly say no.
Just makes you wonder what in the blazes was going on behind the closed doors all day long. Van Hook and King were seen several times going in and talking to Toney and his defense attorneys. They would then go out and return to the basement where the U.S. attorney maintains an office. Back and forth all day long with the press waiting and trying to figure out just what was going on for so many hours.
In my more than 40 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like what happened Thursday. It makes an old timer really suspicious as to what caused the government to back down especially after two new mail fraud indictments were just reported this week.
I don’t want to speculate that anything under-handed was going on or that someone higher up in government forced the local folks to cut a deal. Surely nothing like that could happen here. Reckon?
And now it looks like Toney’s co-defendant will also walk out free man.
Judge Robert James has continued the trial date for former Ouachita Parish Major Michael Karl Davis.
This is to determine if Davis fits the criteria to enter what’s known as pretrial diversion.
The U.S. Attorney’s office requested the continuance, which was not opposed by Davis’ lawyer Charles Kincade.
Right now Davis’ federal trial is set for October 1. But if he’s accepted into the pretrial diversion program, a trial will not likely happen.
More from Gunter.
One of the better known Louisiana paralegals showed up at the federal courthouse Aug. 2 and was allowed in the room where plea bargaining negotiations where underway for former Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney.
Mary Jane Marcentel, who served as a defense paralegal in both Edwin Edwards trials, would not comment as to why she was allowed in the negotiating room.
Did the defense hire her? No comment. What was discussed? No comment. What did you have to offer? No comment. And on and on and on, it was no comment.
Toney ended up that day pleading guilty to nine misdemeanor counts of accessing a protected computer. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one-year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. However, with no past criminal record, Toney will likely not serve a day for his reported misdeeds. In some plea deals, a recommended sentence is agreed upon by both parties.
Toney had originally been indicted on 21 counts of identity theft, computer fraud and obstruction for firing Marc Mashaw, who at the time was Toney’s colonel and third in command. Mashaw had been cooperating with the investigating FBI agent. Last month, the feds filed a superseding indictment charging Toney with two counts of mail fraud. All were felony charges.
U.S. District Judge Robbie James will have the last word at Toney’s sentencing. It was scheduled for Nov. 5, but Judge James has granted a motion moving the court date to the week of November 12th. An exact dates has not been set.
The word on the streets is that a lot of letter writing to the U.S. Attorney might have contributed to the government relaxing its pursuit of the former sheriff. That could be a good idea for people who think Toney’s getting off lightly.