Business News

Former Knight Oil employee Manuel turns himself in

by Leslie Turk

Ex-property manager is last of four implicated in alleged scheme to frame former exec Mark Knight’s brother for possessing illegal drugs.

Russell Manuel

ABiz has learned that Russell Manuel, 47, the last of four men authorities implicated over the weekend in an alleged scheme to plant drugs on the brother of former Knight Oil Tools President and CEO Mark Knight, has turned himself in.

Lafayette Sheriff's records show that Manuel was arrested at 7:04 a.m.; his bond, like the others, is set at $100,000.

Manuel’s attorney, Pat Magee, told ABiz earlier this week that his client has been fully cooperative with investigators since they first contacted him.

Manuel, whose LinkedIn page identified him as Knight Oil Tools' property manager (he was let go from the company earlier this year) faces charges of criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine, possession of Lortab, possession of methadone, extortion and intimidating a witness.

ABiz reported Thursday that 57-year-old Mark Knight, who was fired as president and CEO of the company late last year, has now been removed from the board of directors as well.

Jason Kinch
Mark Knight

Authorities allege that Mark conspired with Manuel and two law enforcement officials to plant illegal drugs on the vehicle of his brother, Bryan Knight, which resulted in the June 2014 arrest of Bryan. The two law enforcement officials were arrested over the weekend, and Mark Knight turned himself in Tuesday. He was released after posting $100,000 bond. Mark Knight and the law enforcement officials, Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Deputy Jason Kinch and State Trooper Corey Jackson, face a charge of racketeering.

Authorities claim Mark Knight paid the trio more than $100,000 in cash and gifts to set his brother up.

However, the 2014 drug charges against Bryan Knight, 56, were not pursued due to “insufficient evidence,” says District Attorney Keith Stutes, who is prosecuting the conspiracy case.

Corey Jackson

Bryan Knight was among the board members who voted his older brother off the board this week, according to Knight Oil Tools President and CEO Earl Blackwell. Blackwell identified other board members as the Knight brothers’ sister, Kelley Knight Sobiesk, and Bobby Veazey, the company’s chief financial officer.

Bryan Knight

Authorities say they do not believe any other Knight family members were involved and are not pursuing any additional suspects in the case.

Officials would only say they believe Mark Knight's motive to be "financial."

Read more on what may have been the once-powerful executive's reasons for allegedly conspiring to frame his brother here.