ST. FRANCISVILLE — The trial began Tuesday for a former West Feliciana parish police juror accused of converting a nonprofit organization’s funds to his personal use by routing the money through church accounts.
John Cobb, 54, who served on the jury for 24 years until his defeat last year, is accused of three counts of felony theft involving the alleged diversion of a nonprofit organization’s money to private hands.
Cobb and six other people, including Cobb’s wife and mother-in-law, were indicted in 2010 after an investigation by State Police into the financial records of Cobb’s church, Union Bethel Family Church, of Weyanoke.
Oliver Wingfield, of Ethel, and George Veal, of Clinton, who also were indicted, are accused of conspiring with Cobb to divert an $80,000 insurance payment to Feliciana Enrichment Center for the 2008 fire loss of its building in Clinton.
State Police allege that the money was funneled through Cobb’s church.
Wingfield, two contractors and Cobb’s mother-in-law have pleaded guilty in the case, but charges still are pending against Cobb’s wife, Carol, and Veal.
Twentieth Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael is presiding over the case.
Prosecution and defense attorneys questioned 36 potential jurors before settling on a six-member jury and one alternate. The majority of those whose names were pulled said they knew Cobb because of his service on the jury, his church ties or through other types of relationships.
Several said they would not be comfortable serving on the jury because of their relationships with him.
One man told District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla he did not know whether he could be a “fair and impartial juror” because of a conversation he once had with former jury manager Ambrose Sims.
Cobb often defended Sims against criticism from the public and other jurors, but he later voted with a majority of jurors to fire Sims.
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