Fifth person charged in Lafayette bribery scheme

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday charged another person in a bribery investigation into the Lafayette Parish court system that has expanded to include former employees of the Acadiana Outreach Center who admitted to falsifying certificates that defendants had completed court-mandated community service at the nonprofit group.

Sandra Degeyter, who worked at the center until October 2009, faces one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, according to a federal court document filed Friday. According to a bill of information charging Degeyter, she conspired with Elaine Crump and a person who has yet to be charged and who has been identified in prior court filings by prosecutors only as “co-conspirator No. 1.”

Both Degeyter and Crump were case workers at AOC. Court papers filed Friday did not detail Degeyter’s age or where she lives.

The alleged scheme involved Degeyter signing documents that verified clients of AOC had completed court-ordered community service work when they had not, the court document filed Friday states.

Crump, 59, of Lafayette, a former case manager at AOC, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of misprision of a felony for not reporting the scheme she was involved in, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley has said.

The plea came after three former employees of the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office pleaded guilty earlier this year in the investigation of bribes paid for favorable treatment in DWI cases.

District Attorney Mike Harson’s longtime secretary and office administrator Barna D. Haynes has pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy.

Haynes, 58, admitted accepting a total of $55,000 over four years, but federal prosecutors contend the amount exceeded $70,000.

Greg Williams, 44, who worked as an assistant district attorney in Harson’s office, and Williams’ secretary, Denease Curry, 46, also have pleaded guilty in the case.

Prosecutors said Crump’s predecessor at AOC, who was not named, had been falsifying certificates stating defendants had done community service at the center, which at the time provided housing and assistance for homeless and recovering addicts.

After the former case manager left AOC, she asked Crump in 2010 to be allowed to forge the woman’s signature to continue producing the false community service certificates on AOC letterhead, according to prosecutors.

Crump agreed in return for regular cash payments from the former case manager ranging from $25 to $100, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege the former case manager was being paid for the falsified certificates by an unnamed third party.

Harson has not been implicated in the case, and the bribery scheme was carried out without his knowledge because of a “lack of oversight and safeguards,” according to court filings by prosecutors outlining the allegations in the case.