Former Jefferson Parish Justice of the Peace Sentenced to Three Years in Federal Prison for Corruption and Financial Fraud
LAFAYETTE, La.: United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Barna D. Haynes, 58, of Lafayette, La., the former office administrator and secretary to the District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, pled guilty to a one count Bill of Information charging Haynes with Conspiracy. According to the Bill of Information, beginning in approximately March of 2008 and continuing until February 27, 2012, Haynes conspired to accept bribes from a co-conspirator in return for Haynes’ assistance in obtaining favorable resolutions of criminal cases pending in the 15th Judicial District.
The following are admissions made by Haynes in a factual stipulation during the guilty plea hearing in the open court before Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Hanna:
Haynes knew at the time she accepted the bribes that the co-conspirator was soliciting and receiving large payments from individuals with criminal cases pending with the District Attorney's Office. Haynes also knew that the co-conspirator has never been licensed to practice law. The cases for which Haynes received payments from the coconspirator involved a variety of crimes, both felonies and misdemeanors, the majority of which were Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) cases.
The Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894 provides a procedure by which a person can initially plead guilty to a crime with the understanding that the conviction will be set aside if the person successfully completes certain requirements imposed during a probationary period.
The District Attorney's Office had previously established a process by which select individuals could receive what was referred to as “immediate 894 pleas” on OWI cases. In order to qualify for the “immediate 894 plea,” the charged individuals had to provide certifications at the time of the plea that they had completed all legal prerequisites, including community service, a substance abuse program, and a driver safety program. If the District Attorney authorized the “immediate 894 plea,” their case was not placed on any docket, and they were allowed to plea at a time and place different than the normal OWI docket. Following the entry of the “immediate 894 plea” the judge would immediately grant the 894 motion dismissing the conviction, which served as an acquittal, thereby enabling those OWI defendants to immediately reinstate their driving privileges.
Beginning in 2008, Haynes began placing OWI cases of the co-conspirator’s “clients” in the immediate 894 process without the District Attorney's knowledge and approval. Haynes would coordinate the scheduling and execution of special immediate 894 sessions with the District Court Judge and the assigned Assistant District Attorney. These special sessions were exclusively for the co-conspirator’s “clients.” Haynes also prepared the expungement paperwork associated with the co-conspirator's client's cases. In return for coordinating these 894 sessions, Haynes was paid $500 per case by the co-conspirator.
While the co-conspirator paid Haynes primarily to facilitate “immediate 894 pleas” in OWI cases, he also paid Haynes to facilitate the resolution of other cases including drug cases, other felony cases, and non-OWI misdemeanor cases. Haynes admitted that the bribe payments she received during the term of the conspiracy totaled $55,000. However, the prosecution contends that the bribe payments exceeded $70,000.
At sentencing, this defendant faces a term of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years following confinement. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
United States Attorney Finley stated, “Corruption in the District Attorney’s Office erodes public confidence in the fair prosecution and resolution of criminal cases and threatens to undermine our judicial system. My office, along with the FBI, is committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who try to advance their personal agendas through bribery.”
For additional details regarding Haynes’ guilty plea, see attached a copy of the Plea Agreement.
The case is being investigated by lead agent Doug Herman with the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker.
United States Attorney Finley is available for comment and can be reached at (337) 262-6618.