Judge agrees to delay trial of investigator in DWI case

A federal judge has agreed to delay the trial of a Lafayette private investigator accused of setting up a scheme to bribe 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office employees for favorable treatment for DWI defendants.

Robert Williamson was set to go to trial in March, but U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote delayed it to Aug. 18, citing concerns from Williamson’s defense attorney about the volume of evidence that needs to be reviewed in the case.

Foote already had granted a prior delay in the case, moving the trial from its original date in December until March to give Williamson time to seek medical care.

Williamson’s attorney, Thomas Damico, filed court papers Monday arguing that a second delay was needed to give him more time to review evidence that includes 136 surveillance tapes of Williamson and others and 400 interviews of 224 potential witnesses.

Prosecutors did not oppose the request.

Five people, including three former employees of the District Attorney’s Office, already have pleaded guilty in a federal probe of the bribes.

They have agreed to cooperate in the case against Williamson, who is accused of working for a cash fee then using some of the money to pay off employees of the District Attorney’s Office to secure special plea deals for his clients.

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

Federal prosecutors said the scheme operated from 2008 to 2012, and that employees of the District Attorney’s Office received more than $70,000 in cash, along with gifts that included bicycles, clothing and an autographed New Orleans Saints hat, according to court filings from federal prosecutors that outline the allegations.