NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — After more than 24 hours, jury deliberation in the trial accusing District Attorney Jason Williams and his former law partner Nicole Burdett of tax fraud continued into Wednesday afternoon.
Over the past six days, jurors have heard from several witnesses, including Williams’ ex-wife, and seen stacks of documents logged into evidence accusing the two of defrauding the federal government of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Neither Williams nor Burdette has taken the stand.
As deliberations continued, the jury requested for three additional instructions and copies of the indictment to be sent to them, suggesting they are taking a look at what is being asked and are being more thourough in their decision. New information from Wednesday’s closing arguments was focused on the key witness, tax preparer Henry Timothy, who at one point was called a ‘sociopath and a liar’ by Burdett’s defense attorney, Michael Magner.
The defense told the court on Tuesday that the prosecution did not present enough hard evidence to prove that Williams and Burdett, who both face at least 10 counts of tax fraud and conspiracy, were the ones calling the shots when it came to providing false information on their tax forms. Additionally, the defense argued that if Wiliams and Burdett conspired to cheat the government, why would they willingly give all their tax documents and expense reports without hiding anything.
However, prosecutors say Timothy, Williams, and Burdett were birds of a feather who cheated together, at one point even saying to jurors, “don’t be fooled – the pair used Henry Timothy as their pawn and this situation was a scheme.”
The jury must decide whether Williams and Burdett are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Deliberations retired for the evening at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and will pick back up at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
WGNO political analyst Cliff Cardone gave us a look at what effect the verdict could have on Williams’ time in office on both sides of the coin. If the DA is found not guilty, he will stay in office and keep his law license.
However, if Williams is convicted, he could be disbarred, deeming him ineligible to be DA. Wiliams would then be temporarily replaced by an Assistant District Attorney, or a new DA could be appointed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry until the governor calls for a special election.
When asked about a potential sentence if Williams if convicted, Cardone told us it could boil down to the judge.
“There are sentencing guidelines,” Cardone told WGNO’s Amy Russo. “Experts say he should expect 27 months sentence but the judge can rule up or down”
As the defense and prosecution approached the courtroom on Tuesday morning, WGNO’s Peyton Trist was able to ask both attorneys about the case.
Do you think the jury will reach a decision today?
Defense Attorney, Mike Magner: “I sure hope so!“
Reporter Question: Describe Henry Timothy (the tax preparer) in one word.
Mike Magner: “He is a sociopath and a liar. There that’s two words.”
Reporter Question: How do you feel today?
Defense Attorney: Everybody knows this is the hardest part. Waiting.
Reporter Question: Any intuition?
Defense Attorney: Juries are always different.
Reporter Question: Any intuition?
Defense Attorney: Nope
Reporter Question: Feeling good?
Defense Attorney: *Thumbs up*