Justice Department Finds Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Violates the Constitution By Incarcerating People Beyond Their Release Dates
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in New Orleans, Louisiana, returned a six-count human trafficking and hate crime indictment relating to the abuse of D.P., a 22-year-old woman with disabilities, in Amite, Louisiana. Raylaine Knope, 42, Terry J. Knope, II, 45, Jody Lambert, 23, and Taylor Knope, 20, are charged with one count of conspiring to obtain the forced labor of D.P., in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1594(b); one count of forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1589; and one count of using force and threats of force to interfere with D.P.’s federal Fair Housing Act rights because of her disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3631. Raylaine Knope and Terry J. Knope, II are also charged with one count of attempted sex trafficking of D.P., in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591 and 1594(a); and Terry J. Knope, II is charged with one count of a hate crime for shooting D.P. with a BB gun because of her disability, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(2), and one count of theft of government funds for stealing D.P.’s federal disability benefits, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641. In addition, in a related matter, Bridget Lambert, 21, was separately charged in a one-count Bill of Information for conspiring to obtain the forced labor of D.P., in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.
The forced labor, forced labor conspiracy, and Fair Housing Act charges against Raylaine Knope, Terry J. Knope, II, Jody Lambert, and Taylor Knope carry a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The sex trafficking charge against Raylaine Knope and Terry J. Knope, II, carries a mandatory minimum penalty of fifteen years imprisonment, with a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The hate crime charge and the theft of government funds charge against Terry J. Knope, II, each carry a statutory maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. The separate conspiracy charge against Bridget Lambert carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
An indictment and a bill of information are formal accusations of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI Field Office in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Risa Berkower and Nicholas Reddick of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant United States Attorney Julia Evans, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
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