Former Acadiana Outreach Center Worker Pleads Guilty In Bribery Scheme Involving Lafayette Assistant District Attorney
In a story that KPEL News has been following since it broke nearly a month ago, 59-year-old Elaine Crump of Lafayette, formerly a case manager with the Acadiana Outreach Center, has pled guilty for her role in the bribery scheme - knowingly allowing her signature to be forged on fraudulent community service certificates while employed as a case manager, and taking bribes for it.
Three other people have already pled guilty in the bribery scheme. 44-year-old Lafayette Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams of Lafayette for serving as the prosecuting attorney in the scheme, Williams' secretary, 46-year-old Denease Curry, for helping coordinate the "immediate 894 sessions" by giving the district judge's staff the names of the OWI defendants who were to plead guilty and 58-year-old Barna Haynes, former Office Administrator/Secretary for Lafayette District Attorney Mike Harson, for taking $55,000 in bribes in return for securing lighter sentences for some defendants who were accused of OWIs.
The "immediate 894 pleas" is a legal provision in Louisiana state law that allows someone accused of an OWI to plead guilty in return for a sentence of community service, drug use and driver safety programs, and an acquittal of all OWI charges and reinstatement of driving privileges. Court documents say ADA Williams and secretaries Curry and Haynes admitted to using this law to accept bribes from "co-conspirator #1," as called by the U.S. Attorney's Office, in return for allowing "co-conspirator #1's" clients to go straight to "immediate 894 pleas" without the District Attorney Mike Harson's knowledge and approval.
Court documents say Crump began working at Acadiana Outreach as an intake specialist in September of 2007. In 2009, she was promoted to the position of case manager. In 2010, she was approached by a former Acadiana Outreach case manager who she had worked with from September of 2007 to October of 2009. Crump says the case manager confessed to her that she had been creating false Acadiana Outreach community service certificates while employed as a case manager. Basically, the forms were saying that the individuals were completing their court-mandated community service when, in fact, they were not. That's when the former case manager, who is still unnamed, asked Crump to help her continue the fraud.
Crump admitted to allowing the former case manager to continue preparing the fraudulent Acadiana Outreach certificates on official letter head, and in exchange for payments, Crump would allow the former case manager to forge Crump's signature onto the fraudulent certificates. Crump was then paid by the former case manager regular payments ranging from $25 to $100 in cash. The former case manager was being paid by another individual who was getting the false certificates from the former case manager and causing them to be filed into the court record.
They were able to avoid getting caught because the former case manager would provide Crump with the names of the individuals they were helping get off and the number of completed community service hours reflected on the fraudulent certificates. This allowed Crump to falsely verify the accuracy of the certificates if she was questioned by employees of Acadiana Outreach or courthouse staff.
When Crump was laid off from Acadiana Outreach in September of 2011, court documents say the former case manager then approached Crump about continuing to create additional fraudulent certificates and forge Crump's name on them, but backdating the documents to a period in which Crump was employed by Acadiana Outreach. Crump then agreed and continued to get payments from the former case worker.
At sentencing, Crump faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both and up to 3 years probation. Haynes faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; Williams faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; Curry faces three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says of the case:
Those involved in this bribery scheme have put their own interests above that of the criminal justice system. Crump’s work at the Outreach Center was an important part of the 894 process and was designed to help people and assist in protecting the public, not to help facilitate Crump’s greed. My office and the FBI will continue to investigate and prosecute corruption in the Western District of Louisiana.