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Nate Cain

A grand jury in Avoyelles Parish has charged Nate Cain and a former subordinate with obstruction of justice, adding to the former prison warden’s substantial legal woes.

The indictment stems from a 2016 administrative probe by Louisiana corrections officials that found Cain had helped torpedo an investigation into an alleged sexual relationship between an inmate and a guard at the Cottonport prison Cain oversaw.

Cain resigned in May of that year, just before the results of the internal probe were made public. Randon Harrington -- who was a major at Avoyelles Correctional Center -- was indicted alongside Cain this week. Harrington was fired in the wake of the administrative probe.

The investigation accused both Cain and Harrington of “aggravated malfeasance.”

The indictment offers almost no insight into the charges against Cain and Harrington. But it’s clear the indictment stems from that probe, as the grand jury also considered charges against two others named in that investigation.

Grand jurors opted not to indict Brandy Dupuy, the guard whose relationship with an inmate sparked the initial probe, or Beau Milligan, a lieutenant colonel who was accused of helping to tank the investigation into the sex allegations. 

“It’s such a bare-bones indictment, it’s hard for me to even comment on it, said Cain’s lawyer, John McLindon. “We’ll learn more about what the charges are through the pretrial discovery process.”

Harrington, whose social media profile indicates he now works at a Louisiana chemical plant, did not return calls or messages from The Advocate.

Milligan's lawyer, Thomas Davenport, praised the grand jury for declining to charge his client, saying it ""took a stand and courageously told the (corrections department) we do not believe your accusations."

Milligan was also fired after the administrative probe on the basis of "aggravated malfeasance. He has an appeal before State Civil Service scheduled for June, at which Davenport promised to "face and defeat Beau's accusers."

The internal corrections probe never determined with certainty whether Dupuy indeed had a sexual relationship with an inmate – which, under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, is considered rape even if both parties consent. 

Rather, investigators found that Cain and his subordinates did their best to shut down the inquiry. Harrington was accused of coercing the inmate to drop his allegations by threatening to have him sent to Camp J at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, where the state’s most unmanageable inmates live.

Cain, meanwhile, cut short a polygraph exam being administered to Dupuy, who denied the relationship. He also sent away a seasoned rape investigator from Angola who had been assigned to help.

Harrington had a history with Cain: He had worked for the warden at Phelps Correctional Center, and was accused in an internal investigation of taking part in the brutal beating of an inmate as Cain looked on. Both men were lightly disciplined, and soon promoted.

Nate Cain is already facing 18 federal counts of fraud involving allegations that he and his now-estranged wife, Tonia, made a series of purchases for personal benefit using state-billed credit cards.

Their trial is set for June.

Tonia Cain, who was the business manager at Avoyelles Correctional Center, has filed for divorce. She has also reverted to her maiden name, Tonia Bandy.

Bandy also faces state theft charges in Avoyelles Parish for allegedly using her position to help herself to tens of thousands of dollars from a fund meant to benefit inmate clubs.

Nate Cain is the son of Burl Cain, the legendary former warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The elder Cain was forced out of that post in late 2015 after The Advocate reported on his business dealings with the stepfather of an Angola inmate.

Follow Gordon Russell on Twitter, @GordonRussell1.