Ex-official wins sentencing delay

Appearing in state District Court with a new attorney Thursday, former West Feliciana Parish Police Juror John Cobb won a sentencing delay on his conviction for three counts of felony theft.

State Police accused Cobb, 54, and six other people, including Cobb’s wife, of misappropriating $80,000 that was supposed to be transferred from a defunct, tax-exempt organization, Feliciana Enrichment Center, to Cobb’s church, Union Bethel Family Church in Weyanoke.

Cobb was represented by attorneys Angela Lockett and Keith Sanchez when a six-member jury convicted him on the theft counts in October.

The former parish official, who is black, pointed out that he was convicted by an all-white jury.

This month, his new attorneys, Robert W. Gill and Yigal Bander, asked to continue Thursday’s sentencing to give them time to study a transcript of Cobb’s trial.

Lockett had also filed a motion for a new trial, but Cobb told 20th Judicial District Judge William Carmichael that he had not heard from Lockett.

Carmichael set a March 7 hearing on any post-trial motions Bander or Gill may file.

Cobb faces up to 30 years in prison and a $9,000 fine on the theft convictions.

District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla also has leveled a conspiracy charge against Cobb, who pleaded not guilty to the additional count Thursday.

D’Aquilla and Assistant District Attorney Haley Green introduced evidence and testimony during the trial that they said shows Cobb took an $80,000 check from the Clinton nonprofit organization, made out to Cobb’s church,

Through a series of transactions, according to the state’s case, Cobb sent $50,000 back to the nonprofit’s directors, George Veal and Oliver Wingfield, through other parties.

Prosecutors also alleged Cobb put $15,000 into the church’s bank account and kept another $15,000 for himself.

In the second count, Cobb was accused of getting paid $5,120 from church funds in May 2009 for a steeple on the church’s new sanctuary, which was under construction at the time. Green told the jury that the steeple was built in 2010, shortly after Cobb learned that he was under investigation by State Police.

The third count alleged that Cobb took a total of $785 in church funds by cashing checks made out to a laborer and keeping the money himself.

Meanwhile, Veal, of Ethel, has filed a motion to move his trial to another parish because of publicity about the 2010 arrests and Cobb’s trial.

A hearing is scheduled Jan. 24.

Four people entered guilty pleas to reduced charges in the case before Cobb went on trial.