Prosecutor’s wife works for judge
An attorney for Mandeville businessman Raymond Reggie is charging that U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, who is presiding over Reggie’s wire fraud case, must have had “something to hide” by not disclosing that the wife of acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green is one of her law clerks.
Metairie attorney David Courcelle, who represents Reggie, filed a motion Friday on Reggie’s behalf asking Dick to recuse herself from the criminal case — something Courcelle indicates Dick declined to voluntarily do April 14.
The motion, which contends Dick should recuse herself or be disqualified, states that Katherine Green is Dick’s civil law clerk.
Dick, of Baton Rouge, told Courcelle that Katherine Green is recused from taking part in any cases involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the motion states.
Dick took office in May. Katherine Green began working for her in June, and Walt Green — who has been at the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2000 — was named acting U.S. attorney on July 1.
Dick on Friday put Reggie’s case on hold until the recusal request is resolved.
Courcelle states in the motion that Reggie intends to take the matter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans if Dick denies his motion.
“Judge Dick failed to disclose to (Reggie) that she employed Mrs. Green. Full disclosure was required. (Reggie) is led to believe that the Court had something to hide. Otherwise, disclosure would have been made,” Courcelle claims in the motion.
Courcelle declined comment on the matter Wednesday, as did Walt Green. Phone messages left at Dick’s office for the judge and Katherine Green were not returned.
Reggie’s motion calls Dick’s impartiality into question.
“In a criminal prosecution, the stakes are extremely high. The only person that stands between the U.S. Attorney and (Reggie) is the Judge. …” Courcelle argues.
Reggie — son of the late Crowley City Judge Edmund Reggie and a former brother-in-law of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy — was indicted by a Baton Rouge federal grand jury in August.
Courcelle notes in the recusal motion that, during pre-indictment talks regarding a particular defense theory, the prosecutor assigned to the case told Reggie and Courcelle that they would not get certain defenses into evidence, depending on which judge the case was allotted to.
“Defense counsel understands posturing by lawyers, but upon learning of the fact that Mrs. Green works for Judge Dick, (Reggie) immediately recalled the above conversation and believes that the reference by the (prosecutor) was that if Judge Dick was allotted this case, (Reggie) would not get his defenses into evidence,” Courcelle states.
Reggie’s motion states the Code of Conduct for United States Judges says a judge “should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
The fact that Walt Green’s wife works for Dick “does not promote confidence in a defendant that the Court will be impartial, especially when the Court fails to disclose the fact that she employes the wife of the U.S. Attorney,” Courcelle contends.
The Code of Conduct also states that a judge “should not allow family, social, political, financial or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment,” Reggie’s attorney says in the motion.
“Due to the fact that Judge Dick employs the wife of the U.S. Attorney, and has failed to disclose that very fact to (Reggie), Judge Dick’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned by the average person on the street,” he argues.
But she said she had not attempted to influence Dwaine Hodges’ future sentencing in a New Orleans case.
The judge described Hodges, of Baton Rouge, as a family friend.
Hodges, a bit player in the bribery scheme that brought down two New Orleans City Hall technology chiefs and eventually former Mayor Ray Nagin, was sentenced in February to four months in federal prison and five months of house arrest.
Reggie is accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from Supreme Automotive Group, of Slidell, while acting as a media consultant for the group of car dealerships. Courcelle has argued in court that Supreme’s top brass was aware of the payments made to Reggie.
Reggie’s indictment alleges he essentially gave himself a $1.1 million raise by billing the dealerships for advertising that was never purchased.
Supreme’s members have dealerships in Gonzales, Plaquemine and other locations in southeast Louisiana.
Reggie pleaded guilty in 2005 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank frauds that cost Hibernia National Bank of New Orleans $3.4 million — Capital One bought Hibernia that year — and Biz Capital of Metairie $3.3 million. He was sentenced in that case by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans to 12 months and one day in prison.
Barbier also ordered Reggie to pay full restitution to both victims.