Trial of ex-La. Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner delayed again 

Murphy Painter, indicted former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner, was granted postponement of his criminal trial Thursday by a Baton Rouge federal judge.

U.S. District Judge James J. Brady rescheduled the trial of Painter from Aug. 19 until Dec. 9 on 42 counts of computer fraud, aggravated identity theft and false statements to FBI agents.

A day earlier, Painter, 60, of Gonzales, announced that he is switching defense attorneys for a third time since his indictment in May 2012.

Painter’s 13-month-old indictment alleges that he illegally accessed confidential personal information through the Louisiana Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.

Painter also is accused of falsely telling FBI agents that those database searches were conducted for official purposes and of using the identities of other people to access the law enforcement databases.

Painter has denied all such allegations.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Walter Green has said that the FBI investigation into Painter grew from a probe by the Louisiana Office of Inspector General.

Inspector General Stephen Street alleged in a February 2011 report that Painter, as ATC commissioner, illegally obtained information on judges, the governor’s staff, former LSU quarterback Thomas Hodson, U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s wife, Wendy, and others more than 1,000 times.

In Painter’s federal criminal case, prosecutors did not object Wednesday to Painter’s switch from New Orleans attorney Timothy A. Meche to Covington attorney Michael Fawer.

Painter initially was defended by Baton Rouge trial attorney C. Frank Holthaus. But Painter switched to Meche three weeks after Painter was indicted last year.

Since then, Painter has won postponement of his trial four times.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Green, Cam T. Le and M. Patricia Jones also successfully sought one postponement of the trial earlier this year.