Have you ever wondered why violations of Louisiana law by public officials and employees are prosecuted in federal court and not in state court? Articles about two examples of this appeared on the front page of Section B of the Aug. 9 edition of The Advocate.
In the lead story, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office announced it would not pursue state criminal charges in an investigation of bribes paid for favorable treatment in local DWI cases, stating that “the U.S. Attorney’s Office is pursuing the criminal conduct which took place in this matter. Therefore, we consider our file to be closed.” This criminal conduct, which is bribery under Louisiana law, occurred in Lafayette Parish, but no state criminal charges were filed against the parties involved.
The second article concerned guilty pleas in federal court by two former LSU-Eunice employees for stealing federal funds allotted to help students pay for tuition. While federal money was involved, this was still a violation of Louisiana’s theft laws.
It seems that just about every case involving bribery, theft or some kind of public corruption in Louisiana is prosecuted by the feds. Why haven’t our district attorneys and even our attorney general prosecuted these violations of state law? Are they afraid of the political fallout that may come from prosecuting locals and are content to let the feds do their job?
I invite the Louisiana attorney general and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association to respond to this question. Their response, or lack thereof, should prove interesting.