Six months after alleging that federal child porn charges against him are the result of a "selective and vindictive" prosecution, the war of words between Baton Rouge lawyer and former state liquor lobbyist Christopher Young and prosecutors rages on in court filings.
Young, the brother of former Jefferson Parish President John Young, claims the only reason he's being prosecuted in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge is because he refused to cooperate with federal authorities in a public corruption probe.
Federal prosecutors counter that nothing could be further from the truth. The truth, they say, is that a Baton Rouge federal grand jury indicted Christopher Young in May on possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography charges because he forwarded videos of boys engaging in sex acts with donkeys to friends, family, clients and others in 2013 and 2015.
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles held hearings in September and October on Young's motion to dismiss the federal charges but hasn't issued a ruling.
In court documents filed since the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cam Le and René Salomon insist there's "no improper motive" behind the prosecution of Young.
A former Louisiana liquor lobbyist is claiming the FBI used the threat of child porn charges…
Young's attorneys — Billy Gibbens, Marci Blaize and Taylor Townsend — beg to differ and say federal authorities were interested in Young only because of his lobbying activities before the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and his relationship with former ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert.
"Rhetoric aside, Young knows that he is being prosecuted because he engaged in illegal child sexual exploitation by repeatedly distributing, over a two-year period of time, graphic child pornography bestiality videos to his friends, family, clients and colleagues," the prosecutors argue in asking deGravelles to deny Young's motion.
Just because Young claims he had no lustful interest when he distributed and possessed the videos doesn't mean he should be shielded from federal prosecution, the government attorneys add.
Le and Salomon note that the investigation arose out of an unsolicited referral from a local lawyer to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Subsequent forensic analysis revealed that Young … distributed child pornography bestiality videos, on 33 separate occasions, to 38 different individuals," the prosecutors state.
Young's attorneys argue that what began as a child porn investigation quickly morphed into a public corruption probe when the federal government learned of Young's lobbying activities and his friendship with Hebert.
"It took a child pornography case that it normally would not have prosecuted and used it to try to force Mr. Young to become a government agent in a fishing expedition for public corruption," his lawyers contend.
Not true, according to Le and Salomon, who say Young's decision not to cooperate with law enforcement "was not the motivation for the Government's decision to seek an indictment."
"Defendants regularly reject plea agreements; there is no evidence that Young's choice to do so here made prosecutors retaliate against him," the prosecutors argue.
Young testified in deGravelles' courtroom in September that FBI agent Maurice Hattier Jr. told him that "whatever is on that phone doesn't have to become public if you cooperate with us in a public corruption investigation."
Hattier also testified and denied making that statement to Young. The agent also said his previous investigation into the ATC had been closed without charges.
Hebert, who recently unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate, has said he's proud of his service as ATC commissioner. He said he aggressively cleaned up the agency and industry by rooting out fraud, tax evasion, drug sales and prostitution at some of the establishments he regulated.
A Baton Rouge lawyer and former state liquor lobbyist on Thursday characterized as a "crude …
Young, in his federal court testimony, described as a "crude joke" his forwarding of the unsolicited videos on his cellphone.
Young's attorneys maintain their client "refused to be extorted" by federal authorities, and now he's fighting child porn charges that could land him in federal prison if he's convicted.
"The reason the government treated Mr. Young differently is that he exercised his constitutional rights to lobby the ATC, and as a result held value to the government's public corruption squad," Gibbins, Blaize and Townsend argue.
Le and Salomon claim that a "patient prosecution … gave Young multiple opportunities to carefully consider his predicament and options" before an indictment was sought.
"In short … Young is not facing any unfairness; he is simply facing the 'unpleasant alternative' that he chose after his serial rejection of the Government's plea offers," the prosecutors say.
Young's attorneys dispute that scenario.
"Mr. Young was not prosecuted because he refused to accept a plea bargain, but because he refused to 'wire up' or otherwise participate in a wholly separate campaign against public officials," his lawyers charge. "The government's threat was not a plea offer."
"Threatening prosecution unless a target can 'produce' something for an unrelated investigation is not acceptable," they add.
Young's attorneys also allege that federal authorities did nothing to those who sent the videos to Young, nor did they investigate to see whether those who received the videos from Young forwarded them to others.