Federal probe into Jason Williams began in 2017, ‘unrelated’ to taxes, lawyer says | Courts

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Federal probe into Jason Williams started in 2017, 'unrelated' to taxes, attorney says | Courts

City council president Jason Williams announced in a lawsuit on Friday that an anti-federal investigation began with subpoenas from the grand jury that were issued "earlier than previously known" in a "tax-free affair" in 2017.

Just last year, an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service was conducted that led to eleven charges that Williams and criminal defense partner Nicole Burdett are now using for tax fraud and other federal charges, her lawyers wrote.

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What exactly these previous summonses were looking for is uncertain. Nothing was in the file and Williams & # 39; attorney Billy Gibbens declined to comment on Friday.

Williams had dated the investigation into his affairs at least until 2018 and remembered calls from friends describing visits by curious agents. However, Williams had also argued that federal agents only targeted him after first examining his tax adviser, Henry Timothy, who is now working against him and Burdett in the government case.

The new timeframe indicates that other factors played a role.

The prosecution focuses on the work of Timothy, who filled in what the prosecution calls excessive deductions on Williams' returns, which reduced his tax liability by more than $ 200,000 in the five tax years that ended in 2017.

The indictment includes a number of conspiracies, five cases of false or fraudulent tax returns, and five cases of non-filing of tax forms related to cash received. The indictment contains few details of the expenditure that the government is questioning. Along with the inflation of the deductions, Williams failed to submit proper forms for more than $ 60,000 in cash, the indictment said.

47-year-old Williams qualified in a field of four for the Orleans District Attorney race last week. The current owner of this seat, Leon Cannizzaro, resigns after two terms. But Cannizzaro's ghost will continue to weigh heavily on both the election and Williams’s defense.

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Williams described his charges on June 26, a month before qualification, as a malicious political attack launched by Billy Schultz, a longtime Cannizzaro political adviser.

Williams and Burdett claim that the 2017 summons matched a series of threatening text messages from Schultz earlier this year, warning Schultz of anger ahead when Williams challenged Cannizzaro for his place.

They also contested the government's reasons for access to a large jury amidst a federal court ban to secure the charges against Williams and Burdett before the deadlines for some of the charges expired.

The government also said that the lawsuit against Williams and Burdett was only recently approved by the Department of Justice's tax department, which prompted it to file a lawsuit.

Gibbens and Michael Magner, who represents Burdett, wrote that the government's argument was dishonest given the length of the investigation and upcoming elections.

New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams and his legal partner came to the…

"The only reason the deadlines for some charges have passed," is that the government has been investigating and trying to find a crime since 2017, "they wrote." There was clearly another, obvious reason for the rush Government to indict: the qualification period for July 24 and the election for November 3. "

Gibbens also accused the federal prosecutor that Williams and Burdett's right to a speedy trial remained intact despite an indictment filed as part of the judicial ban.

"The government cannot decide to indict while the lawsuits are on hold and can simply remedy the defendants' inability to bring the case to court," they wrote.

In this case, a preliminary trial date has been set for September 14, although the current judicial suspension has suspended legal proceedings until October 5.

Prosecutors argued that any Williams and Burdett allegation of a speedy federal law process was "premature and unfounded." The court found that postponing litigation during the pandemic served "interests of justice".

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