GONZALES — State prosecutors in Ascension Parish must ask federal prosecutors to certify that they turned over all records of their investigation of Sorrento Councilman Randy Anny and Baton Rouge lawyer Roy Maughan Jr., a state judge ruled Monday.
Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr. of the 23rd Judicial District Court ordered Assistant District Attorney Robin O'Bannon to get the assurance after defense attorneys questioned whether they had received all the records from the four-year, joint FBI-Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office public corruption investigation into their clients.
Though that probe never led to federal charges, Anny and Maughan face state theft and forgery counts over a questioned 2012 sewer job in Sorrento for which prosecutors allege Anny and Maughan conspired to pocket $77,500 in town funds. Anny also faces malfeasance and prohibited profit-splitting counts from the alleged scheme.
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Prosecutors allege the men concocted three bogus bids, including one from purported winner Design & Build Consultants, to manipulate the public bid process and prompt the unusual step of an advance expenditure of public money for public works to Design and Build Consultants. Prosecutors claim the men kept the money instead.
Anny and Maughan have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The town of Sorrento has separately sued Design and Build, a company subcontractor, Anny, Maughan, and several of others for breach of contract and civil fraud over the sewer project, which was never finished. The suit is still pending.
Kliebert had previously ordered state prosecutors to turn over all records in their possession to the defendants, including records from the federal investigation and normally secret grand jury documents.
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The defense attorneys have argued the records may contain information pointing to their clients’ innocence in light of the fact that federal prosecutors did not bring charges.
The defense attorneys say they have received more than 17,000 pages of documents so far, but Vincent “Beazy” Sotile Jr., Anny’s attorney, told Kliebert on Monday that some of those documents reference interviews or other investigative activities for which there are no original records.
Sotile cited as an example an interview federal investigators had with former town attorney Donovan Hudson.
O’Bannon, the state prosecutor, told Kliebert that the District Attorney’s Office had turned over everything it had in its possession, including what federal prosecutors gave them, but that led Sotile to question whether federal prosecutors had turned over everything to state prosecutors.
O’Bannon noted that the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office is not in control of the federal government or “what they give us.”
Separately, L.J. Hymel, defense attorney for Maughan, argued that counts three and four against Maughan and Anny — bid forgery and theft counts — were duplicative and amounted to double jeopardy because they rely on the same evidence.
Hymel argued the theft count must be dropped, under the law, for the slightly harsher forgery count.
But O’Bannon countered that Hymel’s claim is premature and should wait for trial. She also pointed to a recent state Supreme Court ruling she said undercuts Hymel’s argument.
Kliebert took the motion under advisement.
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