Former Acadiana Outreach Center Worker Pleads Guilty to Bribery Conspiracy in District Attorney OWI Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 25, 2013|
LAFAYETTE, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that former Acadiana Outreach Center employee Sandra Degeyter, 61, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty to a one-count bill of information charging her with conspiracy to commit bribery.
This plea is related to the bribery investigation of former employees of the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office who accepted bribes in return for their participation in the facilitation of “immediate 894 pleas.” This is the fifth plea related to the bribery scheme.
The Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894 provides a procedure by which a person can initially plead guilty to a crime with the understanding that the conviction will be set aside if the person successfully completes certain requirements imposed during a probationary period, including community service.
Degeyter made the following admissions in open court before Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Hanna as outlined in her factual stipulations entered during the guilty plea hearings today:
Degeyter worked as a case manager for Acadiana Outreach from March 2008 to October 2009. Beginning in 2008 and continuing until February 17, 2012, Degeyter conspired to provide false and fraudulent Acadiana Outreach community service certificates to an unnamed, uncharged co-conspirator in exchange for money. The fraudulent certificates purportedly confirmed that “clients” of the co-conspirator had completed court-ordered community service, when in fact they had not. The co-conspirator paid Degeyter cash, $100 per certificate, and also made in-kind contributions to Acadiana Outreach for the false certificates. Degeyter admitted producing more than 50 false certificates between the spring of 2008 and October 2009.
After Degeyter left Acadiana Outreach in October 2009, she asked Elaine Crump, who was still employed as a case manager at Acadiana Outreach, to assist her with continuing the fraudulent scheme. The two agreed that Degeyter would continue to create fraudulent Acadiana Outreach community service certificates, and in exchange for cash payments, Crump would permit Degeyter to sign Crump’s name on the fraudulent certificates. Crump previously pleaded guilty on February 5, 2013, to misprision of a felony.
Degeyter began to provide cash payments to Crump ranging from $25 to $100, which was a portion of the cash Degeyter received from the co-conspirator. Degeyter provided Crump with the names of the people she had prepared false certificates for and the number of community service hours the certificates falsely stated had been completed. Degeyter did this so that if questioned by anyone, Crump could falsely verify the accuracy of the certificates.
Crump was laid off from Acadiana Outreach in September 2011. Shortly thereafter, Degeyter and Crump agreed that Degeyter would continue to create additional certificates and sign Crump’s name on them but would backdate the documents to dates within Crump’s employment at Acadiana Outreach. In exchange, the co-conspirator would continue to pay Degeyter, and she would continue to share those payments with Crump. Degeyter’s payments to Crump continued until December 2011.
Degeyter faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both with up to three years of supervised release for the conspiracy count.
“The defendant’s actions were motivated by greed,” Finley said. “Her criminal activity has not only affected the justice system, but it has tarnished the good work of her former employer. Those involved in this case did not seem to consider the far-reaching damage that their actions would have on our community and the agencies that serve it.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Luke Walker and Richard Willis are prosecuting the case.