Figure in Lafayette bribery scheme seeks trial delay

The central figure in the federal investigation of a bribery scheme at the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is seeking to push back his trial scheduled for Dec. 16.

An attorney for Lafayette private investigator Robert Williamson, 64, wrote in court filings this week that his client is in need of immediate medical care and will not be available to help prepare for his defense.

Defense attorney Thomas Damico could not be reached for comment Wednesday about the medical problem.

Williamson has a history of mental issues and strokes, according to court filings in an unrelated civil case in which his family members had temporarily sought in 2012 to take control of his financial and medical affairs.

Williamson’s mental competency was at issue in an Oct. 30 court hearing, but a federal magistrate judge found he was mentally sound enough to stand trial.

He is accused of helping set up a scheme to bribe District Attorney’s Office employees with cash and gifts in return for favorable treatment of criminal defendants, mainly in DWI cases.

A federal grand jury indicted Williamson earlier this year on counts of conspiracy, bribery and making a false statement to a federal agent.

He was the sixth person charged in the ongoing federal investigation.

The five others, including three former employees of the District Attorney’s office, have all pleaded guilty and are cooperating with federal authorities.

Federal prosecutors have not said how many cases were involved, but the scheme operated from 2008 and 2012 and involved “thousands of dollars,” according to court filings from prosecutors that outline the allegations.

The court filings alleged t employees of the District Attorney’s Office received more than $70,000 in cash, plus gifts that included bicycles, clothing and an autographed New Orleans Saints hat.

District Attorney Michael Harson has not been implicated in the scheme and has previously said he was not aware of any bribes involving his employees.

Federal prosecutors had filed no response as of Wednesday afternoon to Williamson’s request for delay, and no court hearing had been set on the issue.