Posted: Jul 6, 2010 3:11 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2010 3:11 PM
LAFAYETTE, La. - United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley issued the following statement
regarding the case of United States v. William Conen, Jr., Michael L. Thompson, and Terry
"Two years ago a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging William R. Coenen, Jr.,
Michael L. Thompson and Terry D. Denmon with conspiring and engaging in a scheme to defraud
the citizens of the State of Louisiana of their honest and faithful services in connection with the
Poverty Point Reservoir District, a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana. Specifically, the
indictment alleged that Coenen, the elected District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District who had
been hired by the Reservoir District to provide legal services; Thompson, the Executive Director of
the Reservoir District; and Denmon, hired by the Reservoir District to provide engineering services,
personally enriched themselves by purchasing property adjacent to the Reservoir, concealing their
ownership by placing it in the name of a nominee, and then taking actions which substantially
increased the value of the property."
"An indictment is an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until
proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. All three defendants in this case entered pleas of not
guilty, and the matter was scheduled to be tried before a jury."
"On June 24, 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Jeffrey Skilling v.
United States in which it dramatically limited the use of the honest services statute upon which the
government based its prosecution against Coenen, Thompson and Denmon. The Supreme Court
ruled that the honest services statute was limited to cases involving bribery and kickbacks, and that
any broader interpretation of it was invalid. The Skilling opinion therefore invalidates the legal
theory upon which the prosecution of Coenen, Thompson and Denmon was based. Accordingly,
the United States has asked the court to dismiss the indictment."
Mike Thompson sentenced to 18 months
Former Poverty Point Reservoir District president Mike Thompson was sentenced to 18 months in federal custody late Monday afternoon.
Thompson had been convicted of one count of violating the Hobbs Act in January.
The conviction carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine or both.
Prosecutors were pushing the judge to sentence Thompson to 41-50 months for the conviction, while defense attorneys argued the sentence should be 15-20 months.
Federal Judge Robby James handed down the sentence shortly before 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, following discussions with the attorneys in his chambers.
Thompson now has two weeks to file an appeal. In the meantime, he will be notified by letter of the prison he is to report to by 2 p.m. Aug. 23. He must also pay $8,000 in restitution to the U.S. Clerk of Court’s Office as well as a special assessment fine of $100.
In another development, charges have been dropped in a another case against Thompson, district attorney Billy Coenen and engineer Terry Denmon due to a recent Supreme Court ruling.
The court ruled in the case Jeffrey Skilling vs. The United States the honest services statute is limited to cases involving bribery and kickbacks.
The three men were charged with using their positions to enrich themselves. However, as no bribes or kickbacks were involved, officials ruled the law did not apply to them.