New Orleans district attorney acquitted in federal tax case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams was acquitted by a federal jury on Thursday in a tax evasion case, lifting a legal cloud that hung over him during his campaign to become the lead prosecutor. of the city and his first 19 months in office.
Williams and an associate, Nicole Burdett, who had worked at his law firm, had been charged in an indictment with conspiring to cheat Williams’ taxes during a five-year period ending in 2017 Williams, a former city council member, argued the charges were politically motivated. New Orleans media reported that the same jury that acquitted Williams convicted Burdett of four tax-related counts.
The verdicts came after about 16 hours of deliberations spread over three days.
Prosecutors closed their case Tuesday morning, a week after the start of the trial. Witnesses for the prosecution included tax preparer Henry Timothy, who was cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty to a single tax charge, as well as a forensic accountant and federal investigators.
The defense also rested on Tuesday morning, without calling any witnesses. Defense attorneys described Timothy as a fraudster and Williams as a victim. They attacked Timothy’s credibility and questioned why others whose taxes were prepared by Timothy were not being criminally prosecuted.
Williams was a criminal defense attorney, president of the New Orleans City Council, and a fierce critic of then-serving district attorney Leon Cannizzaro when he signed up to run for Cannizzaro in 2020. promising an end to Cannizzaro’s harsh tactics, including sometimes threatening casualties. with a prison sentence if they did not testify in the investigations.
Despite the federal indictment that was handed down earlier in the year, Williams won the race and took office in January 2021.
He has received praise from many criminal justice reform advocates who helped elect him for his efforts to review cases of possible wrongful convictions and for taking a fresh look at felony convictions based on 10-2 or 11-1 verdicts that are no longer legal. in state law. But pandemic-era crime in the city has risen dramatically and it has come under fire for measures such as banning the use of repeat offender charges to secure longer sentences for those convicted.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.