Former Caddo Commissioner requests pardon

Local

The former Caddo Commissioner who spent 14 months in a federal penitentiary after illegally using the debit card from a non-profit organization to withdraw cash for personal believes he deserves a pardon, since he claims a federal appeals court ruled his crime was victimless.

Michael Williams was indicted on 12 counts of federal wire fraud in March 2015 and convicted on 11 of them almost a year later. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison, to pay $8,590.68 in restitution to the Caddo Commission, and three years of supervised probation, which he is still serving today.

His conviction was for withdrawing more than $8,500 from the accounts of SWAG Nation, a nonprofit organization he founded to help at-risk youth ages 7-to-17 through mentoring and counseling. Funding for the organization was from a $100,000 appropriation from the Caddo Parish Commission at Williams’ behest, though at the time Commissioners were unaware of Williams’ involvement.

Basing his argument on an October decision by the Fifth Federal Court of Appeals in which the lower court’s sentence to pay restitution was overturned, Williams said the court said his crime was victimless, so his conviction should be pardoned.

The court, however, didn’t’t exactly say that in its ruling, but instead said the Caddo Commission was not a victim, in that it received the services it contracted for. The court, however, did not overturn Williams’ felony conviction,

Although Williams prevailed on the Commission to send resolutions to President Donald R. Trump and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Article 4, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution states the governor only has the power to pardon prisoners convicted in state courts.

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