NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — After nearly two days of deliberating, a federal jury found Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams not guilty of defrauding the United States government of more than $200,000. Deliberations began on day 7 of the trial, around 3:00 Tuesday afternoon
Williams was accused of tax fraud involving hundreds of thousands of dollars along with his former law partner, Nicole Burdett. Williams and Burdett were found not guilty on the 10 counts they shared. However, Burdett was also found guilty of four counts related to tax fraud and conspiracy.
Williams’ defense attorneys say Burdett was used as collateral damage, adding that the prosecutors wanted to convict the DA. Burdett’s attorney, Mike Magner, says his client was asked to testify against Williams in exchange for immunity and even released a letter from lead prosecutor Kelly Uebinger dated back to December 2019 that details some of the exchange:
This letter will confirm our conversation yesterday during which you told me that you recommended to your client that she not come in and speak to the Government, even though we offered her use immunity and the possibility of prosecutorial immunity. Since she has declined our offer, we have added her to this matter as a target and have requested her personal tax returns, thus exposing her to potential criminal and civil liability.
This matter will be referred to DOJ Tax and I will advise you of the status, once we receive their recommendation.
Thank you for your courtesies.
In the letter, Uebinger told Magner that although immunity was offered to Burdett, her denying to speak to the government would then make her a target in the case.
Following the news of Thursday’s verdict, Uebinger has not commented, however, one prosecutor did thing the jury for their time and effort:
“We want to thank the jury for their service — people are innocent until proven guilty although we may not always agree with the jury we respect the work they have done in this case and we are going to defer all the comments until after miss Burdett’s sentencing.”
The two-week-long trial began on Monday, July 18. In the trial, prosecutors tried to prove that Nicole Burdett and Jason Williams called all the shots in the tax fraud case. But in the closing arguments, Williams’s lawyers said that the case was about trust in their tax preparer and they argued that they put their trust in Mr. Timothy, who lied about being a CPA.
It is unclear if Burdett will try to appeal her convictions. Her sentencing is scheduled for November 30.