The chairman of the St. Charles Parish Hospital Board was arrested Monday night and accused of filing false public records in a case that grew out of the prosecution of the parish’s former longtime district attorney, Harry Morel.
John Joseph Landry III, of Des Allemands, was booked on four counts of filing false public records and four counts of conspiracy to file false public records.
As part of Morel’s recent guilty plea to a charge of obstruction of justice, he admitted he had helped a young woman get credit for performing community service she never did.
In his guilty plea, Morel acknowledged that he had secured that favor from a friend at the Luling-Boutte Lions Club in St. Charles Parish, who agreed to attest that the work had been performed.
Landry was the president of the Luling-Boutte Lions Club, and he and Morel were friends.
Ralph Whalen, Landry’s attorney, called the criminal charge “unfortunate overkill for someone that has done as much for his community as Mr. Landry has.”
Whalen said there is “no substance to the charge” and that Landry “had no sense that anything he did was improper.”
Whalen said his client doesn’t deny signing the forms but that “Mr. Landry didn’t know that she didn’t do the work.”
An email to the Luling-Boutte Lions Club was not immediately returned Tuesday.
While he pleaded guilty only to obstructing justice, Morel, 73, who served as district attorney for more than 30 years, was accused of much more serious crimes. Authorities said he used his official position to offer women leniency in criminal cases in exchange for sexual favors.
Prosecutors have described him as a “sexual predator” who victimized more than 20 women over two decades, though in the end he was charged only with encouraging one of those women to destroy evidence of a meeting the two had at his office.
The woman, Danelle Keim, was expected to be the star witness in the case against Morel, but she died of a drug overdose in 2013. Morel admitted in his plea deal that he had arranged for Keim to be given credit for community service at the Lions Club.
Morel, who faces a maximum of three years in prison, is set to be sentenced Aug. 17.
The investigation leading up to Landry’s arrest was conducted by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office with the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office.
“This arrest was a result of a conjunctional effort between the FBI and the local Sheriff’s Office,” Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a prepared statement. “The people of Louisiana should know government officials, elected and appointed, are accountable for their actions. ... I am committed to my pledge to rule out public corruption in Louisiana.”
A spokesman for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that Landry had met a $30,000 bail and been released.
Follow Gordon Russell on Twitter, @gordonrussell1.