Calling the case against Walter Reed an “Olympic-sized leap over the prudent bounds of federalism,” his attorney on Thursday asked a federal judge to dismiss half of the charges against the former north shore district attorney.
Reed, who served as DA for St. Tammany and Washington parishes for 30 years, was indicted by a federal grand jury in April on 18 counts. The government’s case hinges on accusations that he helped himself to taxpayer money that was not his and diverted campaign donations for personal use.
Among the charges is an alleged conspiracy to funnel campaign money to his son, Steven Reed, by overpaying him for work that was ostensibly done for his father’s re-election efforts.
An attorney for the younger Reed also filed a motion Thursday seeking to dismiss him from the federal criminal case, suggesting that prosecutors charged him only to seek leverage against his father.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon will hear oral arguments on the motions Oct. 1.
In a 31-page memorandum, Walter Reed’s attorney, Richard Simmons, attacked the government’s case as a federal encroachment on Louisiana’s right to establish and enforce state campaign laws.
He asked the court to dismiss one count of conspiracy, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
“Essentially, the federal government is attempting to utilize an alleged state campaign violation to form a basis for a federal wire fraud and money laundering prosecution,” the filing said, adding that the federal wire fraud charges don’t stand up because no plausible victim is identified.
Simmons argued that for the government to prove wire fraud, it would have to show that taxpayers, campaign contributors or the Louisiana Board of Ethics were somehow harmed as a result of the scheme.
The indictment attempts to classify violations of state campaign finance law as racketeering, the memorandum said, calling that “a great leap indeed.”
Reed’s defense also takes the prosecution to task for what it claims was ignoring the statute of limitations for state campaign regulations and the penalties provided.
Even if the violations of state campaign spending laws were true, it says, the worst Reed would face would be a maximum of six months in prison, a fine of $500 or both. Instead, he faces up to 165 years in federal prison and fines that could top $1 million.
Finally, Reed’s filing implies strongly that prosecutors effectively interfered with a state election with an investigation that occurred just as Reed would have been gearing up to run for another term last year.
“As demonstrated here, all that need occur to throw and affect a state election is the announcement of a federal investigation into a state political candidate,” it said.
The motion filed by Glenn Burns, Steven Reed’s attorney, seeks to dismiss four counts of the federal indictment for what it claims were failing to state an offense against federal law and seeking to expand federal law, against earlier legal precedent.
Steven Reed was indicted on one count of conspiracy and is named on one of several wire fraud counts against his father.
Another nine counts were not addressed by attorneys for the Reeds in their motions to dismiss: four counts of making false statements on income tax returns and five counts of mail fraud.
The mail fraud charges deal with allegations that Reed took money for legal work for St. Tammany Parish Hospital that should have gone to the District Attorney’s Office rather than him personally.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.