Wendy Vitter will not testify at Murphy Painter trial

Wendy Vitter, wife of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., will not testify at the criminal trial of former Commissioner Murphy Painter of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, prosecutors and defense attorneys announced Thursday.

Painter, 60, of Gonzales, is accused of using confidential federal and state law enforcement databases for personal reasons rather than criminal investigations.

Records of a search for Wendy Vitter’s personal information were found on Painter’s office computer after the former commissioner was fired in August 2010.

Wendy Vitter would have testified that she never had any business dealings with the ATC office, has never been contacted by ATC officials, does not know Painter and does not know why databases were searched for information about her, Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Patricia Jones said.

Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar said, “As a victim in this case, Wendy Vitter cooperated fully with the prosecution and made herself available to testify at trial, even clearing her schedule for it. The prosecution decided on its own to agree to this stipulated testimony instead.”

In other developments Thursday, five other women said either in a written court statement or live testimony that they did not know why ATC searches of law enforcement databases were conducted for information on them. None knew of those searches prior to Painter’s investigation and indictment.

Baton Rouge resident Wendy Sarner testified she met Painter through an online dating service, then went to dinner and a movie with him once in early 2010.

“And that was it,” Sarner added.

Defense attorney Michael S. Fawer noted that Sarner, a probation and parole specialist with the Office of Juvenile Justice, also researched Painter.

“On Google,” Sarner replied.

“What did you learn?” Fawer asked.

“That he was commissioner of a state office,” Sarner said.

The Baton Rouge trial is expected to continue for approximately two weeks in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.

Painter faces 32 counts of computer fraud, aggravated identity theft and false statements to the FBI. The false statements are alleged to have occurred in the form of law enforcement database demands that requested information be used only for criminal justice purposes.

The allegations of aggravated identity theft are not linked to any financial losses. But it is a felony for someone to knowingly transfer or possess another person’s identification without legal authority, under the law cited by prosecutors.

Painter denies all allegations contained in his indictment.