Mayor's sister pleads guilty in federal probe - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Mayor's sister pleads guilty in federal probe

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The federal probe into Baton Rouge courts took another dramatic turn Thursday when the sister of the East Baton Rouge mayor-president was charged and pleaded guilty in the case.

Evelyn Holden, sister of Kip Holden, pleaded guilty to bribery. She solicited and obtained cash from people who had criminal and traffic matters pending in Baton Rouge City Court. Holden, who worked at the clerk of court's office, resigned Wednesday, Clerk of Court Doug Welborn said. Holden now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

"This is a very sad day for my sister and our family," the mayor said. "I am pleased that she made the decision to cooperate fully with authorities in their investigation. I hope everyone will find a way to keep our family in their prayers. Because this is a family matter, this is the only comment I will make on the subject."

Two others were also charged in the ongoing case Thursday.

Koveria Williams is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for working to get charges reduced or dismissed or otherwise "fixed" inside Baton Rouge City Court. Williams was arraigned Thursday morning and pleaded guilty to bribery later in the day. He was a friend of Flitcher Bell, a former city prosecutor who has pleaded guilty to charges against him.

Ann Warr, who has worked at city court for 15 years, is accused of altering records regarding the number of hours defendants have worked for community service. She was arraigned Thursday morning and also pleaded guilty in the case.

Four others previously pleaded guilty for their connections to the federal probe dubbed "Operation Illegal Motion."

Flitcher Bell, senior Baton Rouge city prosecutor, admitted he conspired and accepted money to have charges dismissed over the last several years. Bell took money and gifts in exchange for having people's charges dismissed. Federal agents started investigating Bell two years ago. Once they told the 43-year-old about the investigation, they say he came clean and agreed to cooperate. Bell resigned earlier this month.

Sgt. Darrell Johnson of the Baton Rouge Police Department admitted he fixed a prostitution charge. The 48-year-old was not the officer who made the arrest, but somehow got involved and took money to have the charge thrown out. He has resigned from the force.

Leonard Jackson, a former Baton Rouge police officer, pleaded guilty to bribery. Federal prosecutors alleged that from 2006 until October of 2009, the 45-year-old from Prairieville conspired with others to engage in bribery by soliciting and accepting payments from individuals with criminal and traffic matters pending in Baton Rouge City Court with the promise that the charges would be dismissed or otherwise "fixed." In September 2009, Jackson admits accepting a cash bribe payment in exchange for using his position as a police officer to collect a $10,000 gambling debt on behalf of an individual.

Edward C. James, 65, of Baton Rouge was accused of accepting or extorting bribes from people who had pending criminal charges in the Baton Rouge City Court and the 19th Judicial District Court. He then shared the proceeds of the bribe or extortion with a prosecutor or court official who would arrange for the matters to be dismissed or otherwise "fixed." James was the chief investigator with the Public Defender's Office. He has also resigned.

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