Jonesville election fraud trial set for Feb. 28

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

JONESVILLE, La. — The trial of Mayor Billy Edwards, Police Chief Clyde Walker and six other Jonesville residents charged with election fraud once again been delayed.

The trial, which was originally set to begin Dec. 6, was first postponed until Monday at the request of Edwards’ attorney.

But the trial is now scheduled to start Feb. 28 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria before Chief Judge F.A. Little Jr.

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Mike Small of Alexandria, attorney for Edwards and Edwards’ wife, Mary, said he requested the delay to give his staff more time to review more than 800 pages of witness accounts compiled by the FBI.

&uot;There was no way those interviews could be conducted on time otherwise,&uot;&160;said Small, to whom Billy Edwards has referred all questions.

Small and his staffers will also use the extra time to conduct their own interviews of FBI witnesses and do additional investigation to prepare for the trial.

William Flanagan, Shreveport-based U.S. attorney for the western district of Louisiana, said his office did not object to Small’s motion to postpone the trial.

&uot;These are normal delays, nothing out of the ordinary,&uot;&160;Flanagan said. &uot;To have an indictment handed down in September and a trial starting in February is pretty good.&uot;

On Sept. 22, a grand jury handed down indictments against the nine defendants on 27 charges, including conspiracy, fraudulent voting, vote buying, false information and witness tampering.

The charges stemmed from a Nov. 3, 1998 election that resulted in Billy Edwards’ election as mayor for a fourth term. But the outcome of this trial will not change the results of that election.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been investigating charges of voter fraud in Jonesville since late November 1998, when District Attorney John Johnson referred the case to that office and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.

Other defendants arrested Oct. 5 were Linda Curry, Garnet Thompson, Lola Bowie, Mary Walker and Henry &uot;Doonie&uot;&160;Brown, who helped with Billy Edwards’ 1998 campaign. Mona &uot;Flapper&uot;&160;Briggs turned herself in Oct. 6.