Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL J. COTTON, age 68, of Bogalusa, pleaded guilty yesterday to the one-count Bill of Information charging him with soliciting sexual favors from a woman in exchange for obtaining a bond reduction for her boyfriend.
According to court documents, COTTON worked as an Investigator with the Office of the District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, which includes 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 District Attorney’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.
Between December 28, 2013, and July 10, 2015, COTTON offered to intervene in legal proceedings and obtain favorable legal outcomes in the 22nd Judicial District, such as significant reductions in bond, for three females charged with crimes, their friends, family, and significant others who were charged with crimes in exchange for sexual favors. If females expressed reluctance, COTTON would either imply or state explicitly that he had the ability to influence the criminal justice system to exact harsher penalties against the females or their friends, families, or significant others.
In July 2015, COTTON demanded sexual favors from a 23-year-old female identified as “Victim 1” in exchange for seeking a bond reduction from $25,000 to a $30 signature bond for her boyfriend, a defendant in the Washington Parish jail.
Between December 2013 and March 2014, COTTON requested sexual favors from a 28-year-old female identified as “Victim 2” in exchange for arranging for her to retain custody of her minor children and eliminating a drug testing condition she had as the result of prior legal issues. COTTON told Victim 2 that he had strong relationships with, and possessed the power to influence, representatives of the Washington Parish Department of Children and Family Services, Judges of the 22nd Judicial District, and the then-District Attorney Walter Reed.
In January 2014, COTTON used his position as Investigator to seek and obtain a significant bond reduction for an incarcerated 23-year-old female identified as “Victim 3” with whom he had a relationship that involved sexual activity. When, in February 2014, Victim 3 sought to end her sexual relationship with him, COTTON told her that he would use his position as Investigator to influence law enforcement authorities to imprison Victim 3 if she did not resume the sexual relationship.
COTTON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years, followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle set sentencing March 14, 2018.