Case against Murphy Painter now in the hands of a jury

Murphy Painter walks into the federal courthouse Wednesday.
Murphy Painter walks into the federal courthouse Wednesday.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The trial of former Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Murphy Painter resumed at federal court Thursday morning with the judge dismissing three of the charges against him.

Judge James Brady threw out three aggravated identity theft charges against Painter, saying the case at hand does not fall within that specific statute.

The 29 charges Painter still faces are for computer fraud and making false statements.

Closing arguments were made today with the prosecution saying Painter used Voyager- the system for background checks- as his personal Google for curiosity and personal favors. The defense came back saying that just because Painter refused to grant the Governor's office an alcohol permit for Champions Square next to the Superdome in New Orleans, they fired him. The defense says it was a "scandalous cloud the Governor's office has place on Painter's head."

The prosecution refuted saying, "The only embarrassment to this case is Mr. Painter. He's given law enforcement a black eye."

The case was turned over to the jury at around 4:30 p.m. and deliberations continued into the late evening.

Brady has said he wants to wrap up the trial by Friday. The trial is expected to resume at around 9:30 a.m., Friday morning.


Painter, 59, is accused of performing illegal background checks on hundreds of people, mainly women. He is being represented by attorney Michael Fawer, a high-profile lawyer out of New Orleans.

Painter was indicted on computer fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft by a grand jury on May 23, 2012. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 13, 2012. A judge released him on his own recognizance, so he is allowed to remain free throughout the trial.

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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