Former Baton Rouge city prosecutor is facing criminal charges

Former Baton Rouge city prosecutor Don Simmons
Former Baton Rouge city prosecutor Don Simmons

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Don Simmons was indicted Wednesday after being accused of offering a $50,000 bribe to a Baton Rouge police officer assigned to protect Mayor Kip Holden.

Attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who represents Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, says it is her understanding that Simmons is alleged to have offered police officer Gordon Bargas the bribe, which he did not accept, in return for Bargas going public and endorsing the contents of a political flyer which claims Mayor Kip Holden was assaulted in a dispute back in 2008 while Bargas was Holden's bodyguard.

1st Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns Says the bribe was for the officer to perform an illegal act. "It was to influence his conduct and get him to do something that was not in the scope of his official conduct as a city police department officer. And there was an overtone of political motivation for this," says Burns.

Simmons attorney Philip House says it's just a misunderstanding because Simmons was trying to broker a book deal with the mayor's body guard.

"This whole matter is about a book deal, ok. There was a person here that contacted Mr. Simmons about writing a book about Louisiana politics as part of that they wanted to include a chapter about the mayor," explained House.

"We'll I've heard that defense before, but frankly that was in 2008 and this is 2012," says Pierson. "It's been four years. I don't think it took that long to write War and Peace.

Pearson says neither her nor her client had anything to do with Simmons indictment. "We didn't give any information to anybody because we had nothing to do with that," said Pierson."The subject matter was somebody offering to pay money for sworn witness testimony. We don't allow that in Louisiana."

"If this were true any public official ever who writes a book and receives money for it could be guilty of the same charge of public bribery," says House. "You're a public official; you're paid to tell a story you wrote a book and received money how's that any different?"

Simmons was released on his own recognizance and will have to post a $25,000 bond. The case has been assigned to District Court Judge Don Johnson.

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