Archive for October, 2017

Hearing Tomorrow on U. S. District Judge Nominee

10/31/2017

Media Advisory: Cassidy to Introduce Judicial Nominee During Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON—Tomorrow, US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) will introduce Judge Terry Doughty during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing regarding Doughty’s nomination to serve on the Western Louisiana District.

President Trump nominated Judge Terry Doughty for judgeship on the Western Louisiana District. Judge Doughty currently serves as a Division A Judge of the Fifth Judicial District in Louisiana. Judge Doughty attended Louisiana Tech University (B.S.) and Louisiana State University (J.D.).

WHO:
US Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA)
Judge Terry Doughty

WHAT:
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Terry Doughty, Judicial Nominee for the Western Louisiana District

WHEN:
Tomorrow
Wednesday, November 1
10:00am ET/9:00am CT

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Warrant Issued for Bonton

10/31/2017

An arrest warrant was yesterday issued for Brandon Bonton, an alleged accomplice of Cameron Mays in the June, 2012 murder of Dr. Sue Hashway, after he failed to appear in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

Bonton was supposed to appear alongside two other co-defendants who were in court, Robert Demps and Markeva Daye.

Daye and Demps trial was reset for 9:00 AM, Monday, April 23, 2018, with a pretrial hearing the prior Friday (4/20 – 9:00 AM), and a status hearing at 9:00 AM, February 20, 2018.

Appearing for the state was Assistant Attorney General Madeleine Slaughter-Young. Kia Richardson appeared for the defendants.

Presiding was Judge Tommy Rogers.

Sumlin Attorney Donated to Lincoln/Union DA Belton

10/30/2017

Monroe attorney LaValle Salomon, who is the attorney of record for former state representative William Sumlin, has over the past three years contributed $3 thousand to Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton, campaign records show.

Sumlin, who two years ago was arrested and charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile, and has had his trial date rescheduled many times since his arrest.

Salomon donated $1000 to Belton’s campaign on 7/29/14, about three months prior to his election.

072914.

After Belton’s election, Salomon donated $1000 twice more, on 12/15/14, and on 7/23/15.

12/15/14
7/23/15

Sumlin Trial Date Vanishes?

10/30/2017

The glacial pace of justice in the case of former Louisiana State Representative William Sumlin just got slower.

According to records at the Lincoln Parish Clerk of Court, he is scheduled for trial today (Monday, 10/30) at 9:00 AM in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

However, during an October 17 hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, that hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 1:30 PM. Apparently, the state and the defense neglected to set a new trial date.

We will be in court today for the Bonton/Daye/Demps matter, so we will try to find out what’s what with the Sumlin case.

Mays to Stand Trial for Hashway Murder in February

10/27/2017

The long-delayed trial of Cameron Mays for the murder of Cypress Springs resident Dr. Sue Hashway has been set for 9:00 AM, February 26, 2018, Lincoln Parish News Online has learned.

Mays was convicted in April, 2016 for a rape and kidnapping that took place several days before Hashway was found dead in her Paynter Drive home in June of 2012.

Prosecuting the case will be Assistant Attorney General Madeleine Slaughter-Young, a Monroe attorney who recently worked for the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Attorney’s office. She has civil law experience, and was also a prosecutor for the Orleans Parish DA. In 2015, she was a candidate for Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court.

She is a veteran of the U. S. Army.

LPNO readers will remember that formerly, Assistant AG Mike Ruddick handled the prosecution of Mays for the prior trial. He recently retired.

In this morning’s proceedings at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, the three alleged accomplices of Mays were not in court, but were reset to appear Monday at 9:00 AM. Their trials will be rescheduled to coincide with the February 26 Mays trial, courtroom sources said.

Mays has two hearings prior to trial, a 9:00 AM 11/21/17 status conference, and a 9:00 AM 2/23/18 pretrial conference.

Now it’s DeSoto Parish

10/26/2017

Former Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office employee indicted for stealing fees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 26, 2017

SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury indicted a Converse woman for seven counts of mail fraud.

Melanie Barber, 35, of Converse, La., was employed by the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s office from April 2002 until February 2014. From at least 2004 to 2014, she negotiated money orders made payable to and intended for the Desoto Parish District Attorney’s Office. The money orders were collected by worthless checks and diversion fees but negotiated by Barber at several local banks and retailers for her personal use.

Barber faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine per count. She also faces forfeiture.

The FBI and the Mansfield Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike O’Mara is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cameron Mays’ Alleged Accomplices to be in Court Friday

10/26/2017

Several alleged accomplices of convicted rapist Cameron Mays are scheduled for pre-trial hearings tomorrow (Friday, 10/27) morning in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court at 9:00 AM in Ruston.

Brandon Bonton, Robert Demps, and Markeva Daye were charged in connection with Mays’ alleged June, 2012 crime spree that resulted in the murder of retired Grambling State University Professor Dr. Sue Hashway, and the aggravated rape and kidnapping of a Louisiana Tech University co-ed.

Mays was convicted of the rape and kidnapping by a Lincoln Parish jury in April, 2016.

Among Bonton’s charges are theft, accessory to burglary, accessory to murder 2nd and drug possession.

Day and Demps are both charged with accessory to murder 2nd, accessory to burglary, drug possession, and possession of stolen things.

See here the court docket.

Still unclear is the status of erstwhile key witness Kevin Owen, who was also an alleged accomplice of Mays.

Assistant Attorney General Mike Ruddick, who prosecuted Mays on the rape and kidnapping charges, originally intended to call Owen as a witness for the prosecution’s case. However, in February, 2016, Owens “disappeared from the face of the earth” just prior to trial.

During the trial, Mays claimed that Owens was with him during the burglary and that Owen committed the rape.

He never been charged, nor has an arrest warrant been issued for him. We’ve not been able to get a clear answer from the Third Judicial District Attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s Office, or the Ruston Police Department on why this is so.

GSU President Gallot Statement on Wednesday AM Shooting

10/25/2017

Meanwhile, in St Tammany & Washington Parishes

10/24/2017

Former 22nd JDC District Attorney’s Office Investigator Charged with Solicitation and Receipt of Bribes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, October 23, 2017

Acting United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL J. COTTON, age 68, of Bogalusa, was charged today in a one-count Bill of Information with soliciting sexual favors from a woman in exchange for obtaining a bond reduction for her boyfriend.

According to the Bill of Information, COTTON worked as an Investigator with the Office of the District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, which included St. Tammany and Washington Parishes. COTTON was responsible for investigating matters involving the issuance of bad checks, including initiating cases, reviewing records, interacting with victims, collecting fees and restitution from offenders, and obtaining warrants from municipal judges. COTTON also possessed and displayed a law enforcement badge and credentials, represented the DA’s Office in interactions with criminal defendants and witnesses in ongoing law enforcement investigations, and had access to sensitive case-related information. Furthermore, COTTON regularly corresponded with, had access to, and provided case-related recommendations to Assistant District Attorneys. On July 10, 2015, COTTON is alleged to have demanded sexual favors from a female identified as “Victim 1” in exchange for seeking a bond reduction for her boyfriend from $25,000 to a $30 signature bond.

“We are grateful for the joint efforts between our office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisiana’s Eastern District. Those efforts resulted in today’s filing of a bill of information against Mr. Cotton,” said Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry. “I am committed to ensuring the strong ongoing partnership between law enforcement partners on every level to investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals.”

If convicted, COTTON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years, followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Acting United States Attorney Evans reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Special thanks for the assistance provided by the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.

Jury Ups Funding to Agencies

10/11/2017

Funding was increased by about $100 thousand (from about $600 thousand to about $700 thousand) to several agencies that the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) partially finances at last night’s meeting. Most of the increase ($65 thousand) was for new recording equipment for the three courtrooms of the Third Judicial District Court.

Almost all the agencies received what they had requested.

See here the funding awarded vs last year’s funding level.
See here the originally requested amounts.

One agency was notably excluded from funding.

During the the Finance Committee meeting, Jody Backus (district 7) moved to strike all the requested $10,700 for the Shreveport-based Coordinating & Development Corporation.

According to its website, CDC is a private, nonprofit, member-supported corporation that serves the economic, community, workforce, transportation, and business development needs of 10 parishes in Northwest Louisiana, eleven counties in Northeast Texas, and five counties in Southwest Arkansas.

Backus said he could never support funding the agency because of the $175 thousand profit the agency made at the expense of Lincoln Parish taxpayers, when in the early 2000s the jury was negotiating to buy the old Albertson’s building for the Lincoln Parish Library.

Said Backus, “I can tell you where all this started, and why we dropped them (from funding). That company, CDC, took $175 thousand from Lincoln Parish residents in deceit, when they bought the library.”

The committee defeated Backus’ motion 3-2, with Backus and Henderson voting yes, and Russell, Wyatt, and Wilson voting no.

The committee went on to award CDC $3 thousand on a reverse 3-2 vote split.

However, when the committee report was later presented to the full jury, Backus moved to amend the report to exclude the CDC’s $3 thousand award. That amendment passed 6-5.

The yes votes were Backus, Roberson, Henderson, Bennett, Hammons, and Straughter. The no votes were Wyatt, Hunter, Pullen, Wilson, and Russell.

In other business, the jury approved two cooperative endeavor agreements with the City of Ruston.

One will authorize the jury to do site preparation work, fill and compacting, and access driveway construction for the city’s planned animal control facility. That work is expected to cost around $15 thousand, it was said.

The other is an agreement for the city and parish to jointly fund overlay of Rough Edge Road. Part of the road is in the city, for which the the jury will be reimbursed proportionately.

Finally, new Parish Treasurer reported on the jury’s year-to-date budget through the end of 9/30/17.

See here the document.