Toney enters guilty plea
by Michael DeVault - posted Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 @ 6:33 pm
Former Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney will report to U.S. Federal Court for sentencing Nov. 7 after pleading guilty to nine misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer.
Toney entered the guilty plea Thursday evening after day-long negotiations with federal prosecutors.
In exchange for the guilty misdemeanor pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop all felony charges against Toney, including two counts of mail fraud filed July 26.
The plea deal brings to a close more than two years of investigations, indictments and court filings stemming from actions prosecutors say Toney took in the months leading up to his 2008 election as sheriff and from his time in the parish's highest law enforcement office.
Toney and a co-defendant, former OPSO Maj. Michael Davis, were indicted in February on 21 counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer, identity theft, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors said Toney and Davis hacked into a private email account belonging to former Toney campaign manager and chief of staff Kim Leija.
The FBI and federal prosecutors executed an arrest warrant on Toney in February.
Thursday's plea deal came just days after U.S. attorneys added two additional felony counts of mail fraud to Toney's indictment. Toney had been scheduled to appear in court Thursday to argue that some evidence collected after his arrest and suspension as sheriff should be suppressed at trial.
That hearing never came. Instead, prosecutors and defense attorneys spent Thursday shuttling between the basement of the U.S. Federal Court Building and a small conference room, negotiating terms of the plea.
Check back with The Ouachita Citizen online for more on this developing story.