A New Orleans criminal defense attorney on Tuesday was suspended for a year and a day by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which said it found strong evidence that Donald Pryor tried to bribe a burglary victim to drop the charge against his client or skip out on the trial.
The high court didn’t buy Pryor’s claim that he was merely offering Brian Bode restitution for the gun that prosecutors alleged Pryor’s client, Emily Winborn, stole after breaking into Bode’s shotgun double.
In a 2011 trial, Bode testified that Pryor came to the restaurant he owns and offered him $300 to sign an affidavit saying he didn’t want to pursue the charge of burglary of an inhabited dwelling.
Bode went on to testify that Pryor returned with an offer to pay him $500 if he didn’t come to court the next day. When Bode showed up, he claimed, Pryor said, “I thought we had a deal.”
A jury convicted Winborn, and Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White sentenced her to two years in prison.
The Supreme Court agreed with the recommended punishment from the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. The court said it was swayed by testimony that, despite Pryor’s claim that the money was for restitution, he admitted he wouldn’t pay it until Bode signed an affidavit dismissing the charge.
The court found that Pryor’s “overarching purpose in offering the money was to have Mr. Bode execute an affidavit dropping the charges,” according to the 11-page ruling.
Pryor declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to his attorney, Sheila Myers, who said she hadn’t read the decision.
Three of the justices favored harsher punishment for Pryor. Justice Greg Guidry said he would impose “greater discipline,” while Justices Scott Crichton and Jeannette Knoll said they favored disbarment.