Grand jury subpoenas Angola records

Published 11:57 pm Monday, October 8, 2007

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records dealing with the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, including those relating to three entities closely tied with the prison’s warden.

The subpoena was issued Aug. 27 and ordered the records to be produced in Baton Rouge on Sept. 5, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported Sunday. In addition to records dealing with farm-related functions of the prison, the grand jury also wanted documents pertaining to the sale of prison-produced products.

The subpoena also called for records dealing with the Angola State Prison Museum Foundation, the Angola Prison Rodeo and the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation. All three have closed ties to Warden Burl Cain.

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Cain said the prison has turned over the records, but he has not idea what the probe concerns.

A federal grand jury issued subpoenas earlier this year to Prison Enterprises, the industrial and agricultural arm of the state Office of Corrections Services, seeking records on transactions involving horses, cattle, fertilizer, the Angola Prison Rodeo and potato chips.

The Office of State Purchasing also supplied the grand jury in May with records on potato chip purchases, the prison rodeo and communications with Cain regarding the rodeo.

Corrections agency spokeswoman Pam Laborde said corrections headquarters was served with a subpoena seeking records similar to the documents requested of Angola.

One person has been indicted in the investigation, which began in April 2004 when rodeo producer Dan Klein went to the FBI with an allegation that Cain was pressuring him for a $1,000 donation to the prison chapel fund.

Former Prison Enterprises head James H. Leslie pleaded guilty to a charge of witness tampering. He agreed to cooperate with the investigation and has not been sentenced.

Cain started the museum in 1997, and the museum foundation supports its operations.

The prison rodeo has been a popular spectator event at Angola since 1965, with performances each Sunday in October and two in the spring. The rodeo committee’s charter says proceeds from the event are used to develop the arena facilities and build chapels at Angola and other state prisons.

Rodeo profits once went directly to an inmate welfare fund, which pays for items not covered in the state budget, such as funeral trips, fans, television sets and equipment for prison law libraries.

The prison chapel foundation is a private organization that solicits donations for prison chapel construction.


Information from: The Advocate,