Private Investigator Williamson Pleads Not Guilty To Bribery Case Charges, Trial Date Set
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that private investigator Robert Williamson, 64, of Lafayette, was arraigned Wednesday of this week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Hanna on a nine-count indictment charging him with operating a pay-for-plea scheme that garnered favorable treatment for defendants charged with state violations of operating while intoxicated (OWI).
Williamson pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on a $50,000 bond. The trial date has been set for December 16, 2013.
The grand jury returned the Williamson indictment February 28, 2013, charging him with one count of conspiracy, six counts of bribery relating to the OWI scheme, one count of Social Security Fraud for claiming Social Security payments while not reporting income from the bribery scheme, and one count of making false statements to a federal agent.
According to the indictment, Williamson, who is not licensed to practice law, was part of a conspiracy from March 2008 to February 2012 to solicit thousands of dollars from individuals with pending criminal charges in the 15th Judicial District. Williamson promised favorable resolutions to pending felony and misdemeanor cases, the majority of which were OWI cases.
The indictment states that Williamson paid bribes in cash and other things of value to personnel within the District Attorney's office and employees with other organizations associated with the OWI program, including Acadiana Outreach. Williamson is also alleged to have obtained false and fraudulent certifications from Acadiana Outreach, which certified that his clients completed court-ordered community service, when in fact the individuals had not. The indictment outlines that Williamson would obtain fraudulent driver safety training certificates showing that Williamson's "clients" completed court-mandated driver improvement programs when they had not.
If convicted of the conspiracy, Williamson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both with up to three years of supervised release. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a 250,000 fine or both with three years of supervised release for each count of bribery, five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both with three years of supervised release for the Social Security Fraud count, and five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both with three years of supervised release for the false statements to a federal agent count.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Abendroth are prosecuting the case.