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Louisiana contractor says parish fraud case is retaliatory

A Louisiana defendant has a chance to petition for reduced charges in advance of a criminal trial only when charges are filed through a bill of information. There's no wiggle room for the defense over pre-trial charges when a defendant is indicted by a grand jury. An indictment means the case goes to trial as is.

A grand jury in Livingston Parish fell one vote short of indicting a contractor who did cleanup work for the local government after Hurricane Gustav in 2008. The district attorney's office piled 81 counts of theft and fraud charges onto the owner of C-Del Inc.

Officials believe Livingston Parish was cheated. The defendant is accused of sending false invoices to the parish in 2010 and 2011, an allegation the contractor hotly denies. C-Del Inc. charged the parish approximately $2 million, starting in October 2009. Reports did not indicate what portion of the bills were believed to be fraudulent.

Some members of the Parish Council were concerned about the contractor's work ethic in 2011 and canceled the firm's contract. In 2012, the incoming parish president put a stop payment on a $379,000 C-Del check approved by the earlier administration.

The bill of information alleges the contractor charged the parish for time he didn't put in on the job. The state seized dozens of electronic devices from the defendant's home, which prosecutors said contain enough evidence for conviction.

The defendant believes the charges were trumped up because he found improprieties among three other companies also involved in cleanup operations. The man also stated his work hours were skewed because he doubled as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a claim the agency has not verified. A not guilty plea is expected at arraignment.

A bill of information may contain more charges than evidence can substantiate. A criminal defense lawyer may enter a motion to quash to lessen the charge or charges.

Source: The Advocate, "Contractor accused of falsifying billing expected to enter plea Wednesday" Robert Stewart, Feb. 11, 2014

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