Jan. 24, 2013 06:59
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The assistant district attorney who pleaded guilty to accepting gifts and $500 from a local private eye for helping his clients get favorable treatment in court has been replaced by Lafayette attorney Celeste White.

Attorney Celeste White is the new ADA prosecuting traffic cases.

District Attorney Mike Harson hired attorney Celeste White to handle the types of traffic cases previously prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams. Williams resigned from the office last week after pleading guilty to accepting gifts and cash from an alleged co-conspirator referred to in federal court documents as uncharged co-conspirator #1. The IND has identified that person as Lafayette private investigator Robert Williamson.

A two-year federal investigation revealed that Harson's longtime secretary, Barna Haynes, worked with Williamson over a four-year period to coordinate favorable plea deals for people charged with crimes, mainly OWIs, in the 15th Judicial District. In 2010 Williams and his secretary, Denease Curry, began getting a piece of the action. Haynes resigned from the DA's office in August and last Monday pleaded guilty to accepting $500 a pop - what she says was a total of $55,000 but the feds contend was upwards of $70,000 - from Williamson for helping his "clients." Robert Williamson, who collected about $5,000 from each of his "clients," is not an attorney. The feds say he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from these defendants.

Haynes faces up to five years in prison for her role in the scheme.

Three days later Curry pleaded guilty to a single count of misprision of a felony for having knowledge of the bribery and not reporting it and for accepting payments totalling $1,600 to help coordinate some of the plea deals. She and Williams face up to three years in prison; he will likely be disbarred.

White is new to the district attorney's office. She has a private law practice in Lafayette and writes a parenting column, "The Mother Load," for IND Monthly.