GONZALES — A federal grand jury has investigated Sorrento Town Councilman Randy Anny in a public corruption probe separate from the BP fraud claim brought against him and his wife last year over alleged bogus repairs to his sport boat, a federal judge in Baton Rouge said.
But a defense attorney for the town councilman claims the corruption probe has gone “nowhere” and is closed as far as he knows.
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady disclosed the twin investigations into Anny early this month and wrote that only the BP case had led to charges, “to date,” and that Anny has not been “charged with any crime from the ‘broader investigation.’ ”
“The Government has investigated defendant Randy Anny for two different types of potential offenses: public corruption (‘the broader investigation’) and fraud related to a BP claim,” Brady wrote in a Jan. 14 ruling, in which he agreed to give defense attorneys records and recordings related only to the BP case.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge have accused Anny and his wife, Barbara Falgoust Anny, of making a false claim with BP over $7,800 in repairs to their 26-foot boat, which they had claimed was damaged from the Deepwater Horizon spill in April 2010.
They have both pleaded not guilty in that case, which is still pending.
Brady revealed the two probes in a footnote to the records ruling, which he issued after he privately reviewed bank records and investigative reports on both probes and grand jury testimony from an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office investigator and an FBI agent working on the BP case.
Brady was trying to determine what records Annys’ defense attorneys should receive in their bid to throw out the warrant that led to the Feb. 24 seizure of Randy Anny’s 2004 ProSport boat, dubbed “Who’s Ya Daddy.”
The defense attorneys want the records to help in their questioning of the investigators about the search warrant.
Michael Reese Davis, Anny’s defense attorney in the BP fraud case, asserted Monday the public corruption probe is closed.
“We were aware of a ‘broader investigation’ that went nowhere,” Davis said Monday. “As far as I know, it’s closed, and certainly no target letter was issued to Mr. Anny (in that investigation).”
Under U.S. Department of Justice rules, a target letter is given to a witness called to testify before a grand jury if there is substantial evidence linking the witness to a crime and when prosecutors believe the witness is a defendant.
In court papers Nov. 2, Davis wrote the government conducted a lengthy interview of Anny in September 2013 about matters unrelated to the BP allegations but, as he did Monday, claimed then that the broader investigation “went nowhere.”
Brady’s ruling does not describe the current status of the corruption probe or its focus.
FBI spokesman Craig Betbeze and Walt Green, U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, both declined comment when asked about the disclosure in Brady’s ruling.
Dane Ciolino, a Loyola University of New Orleans law professor, said rarely, if ever, do federal investigators let the subjects of a investigation know if they’ve been cleared.
“Usually, you only know the investigation is over when the statute of limitations has passed,” Ciolino said.
He said the statute of limitations on most federal criminal cases is five years.
Randy Anny’s role in writing a $77,500 check from the town’s coffers in July 2012, when he was serving as mayor pro tem and during the mayor’s absence, for sewer work that was never completed has prompted talk since fall 2013 that he was the subject of a federal probe.
When the Annys were indicted over allegations of the BP fraud in August, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley confirmed his office assisted in an investigation of the sewer check but said at that time his office would yield to federal authorities in the future.
Others also have said they spoke with the FBI about the check.
Former town attorney Donovan K. Hudson claimed in an interview in late October that he was interviewed twice by the FBI over the check, sometime in fall 2013 and again after Anny’s boat was seized in February but before Anny and his wife were indicted on the BP claim in August.
Hudson is separately the subject of a state attorney complaint by Sorrento Town Councilman Donald Schexnaydre.
An attorney for Hudson, in an Oct. 5 letter to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel responding to Schexnaydre’s complaint, asserted that federal and state authorities were still investigating the sewer check.
Anny has claimed Hudson, who once represented Anny privately, authorized via email his writing the sewer check. Hudson disputes this.
In the BP case, defense attorneys for Anny and his wife claim the information supporting the warrant to search and seize the boat was four years old and stale at the time it was issued. The Annys were paid on their BP claim in June 2011.
Anny’s attorney Davis also alleges investigators left out most of the supporting information from the Anny corruption probe in the warrant, possibly misleading the federal magistrate who signed the paperwork.
The boat warrant notes that investigators came across the BP questions while reviewing bank and other records as part of the broader investigation.
Prosecutors have disputed the Anny defense teams’ claims. They said investigators were still gathering information days before the boat search warrant was approved in February 2015.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.