A Baton Rouge lawyer and former state liquor lobbyist on Thursday characterized as a "crude joke" his decision to forward unsolicited videos of boys engaging in sex acts with donkeys to friends, family and clients in 2013 and 2015.
Christopher Young, the brother of former Jefferson Parish President John Young, testified in Baton Rouge federal court that he didn't consider the videos to be child pornography because he didn't think the persons in the videos were minors.
And, at one point during the hearing, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles said a key issue is whether Young's case was "singled out" for prosecution, given the defense claim of pressure by the FBI to have him aid in the investigation of public officials.
The 53-year-old Young's testimony came during a daylong hearing on his motion to dismiss the federal charges on the basis of what he calls "selective and vindictive" prosecution. The hearing will resume Oct. 5.
FBI agent Stephen Soli, who took part in the August 2015 seizure of Christopher Young's cellphone outside Galatoire's in Baton Rouge, testified he doesn't consider Young to be a child pornographer in the traditional sense of the term, but he said what Young did was nevertheless a violation of federal law.
Young, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in May on one count each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography, testified he consented to the FBI search of his phone once agents confiscated it.
The brother of a former Jefferson Parish president has been indicted on two counts of posses…
"I thought I was very cooperative because I had nothing to hide," he said while being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cam Le.
Young testified that FBI agent Maurice Hattier Jr. told him in August 2015 that the child porn material on Young's phone would not be made public if Young, a Beer Industry League of Louisiana lobbyist at the time, cooperated with federal authorities in public corruption investigations.
A former Louisiana liquor lobbyist is claiming the FBI used the threat of child porn charges…
"I said, 'I don't know anything about public corruption,'" Young said under questioning by one of his attorneys, Billy Gibbens.
Hattier later delivered a target letter to Young in the parking lot of Mr. Gatti's Pizza in Baton Rouge in October. The letter said Young was being investigated for child pornography and obscenity.
"We can make this go away if you cooperate with us," Young recalled Hattier telling him.
Hattier, while being questioned Thursday by Gibbens, denied making such a statement.
"I'm absolutely sure about that," the agent said.
Young said Hattier raised the possibility of Young wearing a recording device and mentioned the name of Troy Hebert, who was commissioner of the state Alcohol and Tobacco Control office at the time. Hattier noted that Young and Hebert were friends and had traveled together.
"Certainly you know something about him," Young remembered Hattier telling him in regard to Hebert, who is now a U.S. Senate candidate.
Hattier acknowledged Thursday he did bring up Hebert's name "as an example." The agent testified Young's name had come up in a now-closed public corruption investigation involving the ATC. There were allegations that Hebert's office gave favorable treatment to Young's clients.
Hebert said recently he is proud of his service as ATC commissioner in that 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene Salomon pointed to the case of former Baton Rouge lawyer William Steven Mannear, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 2015 after pleading guilty to receiving child porn via the internet over a three-year period. He permanently resigned from the practice of law in mid-2014.
Young faces up to five years in prison if convicted.