Legal Matters

Ex-Knight Oil employee due back in court Thursday

by Leslie Turk

Source close to the case tells The IND Russell Manuel is negotiating a plea deal in exchange for testifying against his alleged co-conspirators.

The trial of former Knight Oil Tools employee Russell Manuel, accused of plotting with oil patch multi-millionaire Mark Knight and two law enforcement officials to plant drugs on Knight’s younger brother, Bryan, was set to begin in state district court Monday but did not get underway.

A source close to the case tells The Independent a plea deal, which would likely include Manuel’s agreement to testify against his alleged co-conspirators, is in the works.

Manuel’s attorney, Pat Magee of the Voorhies & Labbe law firm in Lafayette, tells The IND neither he nor his client will comment on the status of the case at this time. “The matter of State v. Russel Manuel is postponed until Thursday,” Magee says.

Manuel, Mark Knight, former Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Kinch and ex-Louisiana State Trooper Corey Jackson were indicted in July 2015 by a Lafayette Parish grand jury in connection with the alleged plot to plant drugs on Knight’s brother and have him falsely arrested, all in an effort to force Bryan out of the lucrative family business. The indictment says the quartet “did intentionally or knowingly conducted or participated, directly or indirectly, in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity...” All four have pleaded not guilty.

Mark Knight and the two law enforcement officials face a state charge of racketeering, which carries a sentence of up to 50 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Manuel, Knight Oil Tools’ ex-property manager, faces charges of criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine, possession of Lortab, possession of methadone, extortion and intimidating a witness.

Bryan Knight has since filed a federal lawsuit against the four, alleging they violated his civil rights.

Learn more about the bizarre Knight saga, which wreaked financial havoc on the behemoth oil services company and reads like a soap opera script, by clicking here.