Murphy Painter pleads not guilty - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Murphy Painter pleads not guilty

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Murphy Painter, the former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control appeared in federal court Wednesday for his arraignment hearing.

Painter entered a not guilty plea in the case where he's accused of using his power and access to spy on people, mostly women. Painter showed up with a new attorney.

His former attorney, Frank Holthaus, said the new attorney underhandedly slipped in and took over the case without him knowing it. Holthaus was allowed to withdraw from the case and Timothy Meche was allowed to enroll electronically. A hearing scheduled for Thursday was cancelled.

Last week, a judge released Painter on his own recognizance, allowing him to remain free throughout his trial.

The 59-year-old was indicted on computer fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft by a grand jury on May 23.

The Office of the State Inspector General said it investigated Painter following a complaint from a former ATC employee. Inspector General Stephen Street said Kelli Suire claimed Painter was stalking her. He said investigators later found Painter used state and Federal Bureau of Investigations databases to get personal information about Suire and her attorney, Jill Craft.

US Attorney Don Cazayoux said if Painter is convicted of the above charges, he could face a maximum of 82 years in prison and fines up to more than $12 million.

The indictment alleges Painter made false statements to FBI agents. He is accused of using law enforcement databases for "non-official criminal justice purposes." The indictment also claims Painter exceeded his authorized access and obtained person identification information on several people throughout the area. 

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