Six degrees of (Haynes) separation

by Heather Miller

Additional court documents linked to private investigator Robert Williamson reveal that City Prosecutor Gary Haynes, husband of Barna Haynes, represented Williamson's 2004 appeal in his wife's shocking' personal injury claim. Barna Haynes and Robert Williamson, the two people named by sources as the targets of a federal investigation into 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson's office, share a key connection in the FBI's probe of how Harson's office is handling OWI prosecutions.

As The Independent reported March 7, Williamson is a licensed private investigator who works as a consultant for OWI offenders and Barna Haynes, as Harson's office administrator, schedules meetings between Harson and those who wish to be admitted into the OWI pretrial diversion program or have their charges expunged from their records.

Also reported by The Ind in this week's "Not So Secret Cajun Man" is Williamson's long and bizarre history with federal courts in Louisiana: In 1989, Williamson's wife, Sonya, claimed she was electrocuted while turning off a light in the family's hotel room at the Haynes Best Western in Alexandria, where the family had been living for more than a month (the name of the hotel appears to be coincidental, unrelated to Barna Haynes). The Williamsons claimed in a subsequent lawsuit against the hotel that the electrocution stemmed from a water leak in the room's ceiling and caused Sonya to become quadriplegic ... In the end, the jury sided with the insurance company and ruled that the electrocution was staged, largely based on the couple's history of fraudulent insurance activity. But the Williamsons' appeals and the countersuits filed by the insurance company kept the case tied up in federal court for more than a decade.

The Ind has since learned that City Prosecutor Gary Haynes, husband of Barna Haynes, represented the Williamsons in a 2004 appeal related to the electrocution case. The Williamson and Gary Haynes connection also resurfaces in 2005, when Gary Haynes signed on as the attorney for a child custody case involving local businessman Bradley Griffith.

According to court documents, a district judge identifies Williamson as a private investigator who accompanied Griffith to his child's day care center at the height of the custody dispute.

"Brad ... sabotaged the situation by involving a private investigator, Robert Williamson, who appeared at the day care with him on several occasions and who made inquiries concerning the owners of the day care [to a neighboring business owner] ... This resulted in the child being dismissed from the day care center by the center's owners."

Gary Haynes is the listed attorney for Griffith in the case, according to court documents, though Gary Haynes counters that "I was not the lead attorney and assisted for a brief time in that case."

"And that's all I can say. Other than that I can't really comment on Robert Williamson," Gary Haynes says in a Monday phone interview.

The Ind submitted a public records request to Harson's office Friday morning to verify the employment status of Barna Haynes. Check back for updates as more information is made available.