LAFAYETTE — A prosecutor with the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said he has issued subpoenas as part of an internal probe arising out of DWI pleas.
“I have and am conducting an investigating into matters that arise out of these DWI pleas,” Assistant District Attorney Keith Stutes said Monday.
District Attorney Mike Harson has said the internal investigation pertains to potentially fraudulent community service documents submitted in connection with some DWI pleas.
Stutes said he has interviewed several people in connection with the investigation, including both those who were subpoenaed and others who voluntarily provided information.
Several examples of what appeared to be fraudulent documents were found during reporting of an ongoing FBI investigation into the District Attorney’s Office over the past six weeks.
Harson has said the FBI took files pertaining to DWI cases and some drug cases and felony-level offenses during a Feb. 27 search of two offices in the District Attorney’s Office.
Harson placed his longtime office administrator and secretary Barna Haynes on unpaid leave about two weeks after that search.
The FBI has also declined to comment on its investigation.
The documents in question were submitted by defendants who secured plea deals from the District Attorney’s Office that sped up the judicial process and allowed them to complete their probation requirements — community service, substance abuse and driver improvement courses and payment of fines and court costs — prior to pleading in court, according to court records.
Since their probation conditions had already been met, the defendants were given suspended sentences and their probationary periods were either shortened or eliminated entirely, according to court records.
The Advocate has found 16 DWI cases that involve community service paperwork submitted on letterhead from the Acadiana Outreach Center with the alleged signature of Elaine Crump, the former manager of the nonprofit’s Action Recovery Center.
Two forms were submitted for work completed after Crump was terminated for undisclosed reasons in August. A third form was submitted for hours alleged to have been worked nearly nine months before the person was arrested on the DWI charge, according to court records.
Four additional documents list community service hours on days when the agency was closed for the holidays, according to a list of closure dates provided by Jill Meaux, the center’s executive director.
Meaux has previously said the center supports the District Attorney’s Office in its investigation.
Crump has not returned several calls to her house seeking comment.
Harson said the office will investigate where the forms came from, how many forms were submitted and “whether any criminal violations occurred.”