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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sheriff Found Guilty of Drug-Related Charges

Winn sheriff found guilty of drug-related charges
The Shreveport Times - February 24, 2012

Guilty on all counts is the verdict a federal court jury rendered in the trial of Winn Sheriff A.D. “Bodie” Little on drug-related charges. The jury convicted him of one count each of conspiracy to possess 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of five grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and two counts of using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking. The panel reached the unanimous guilty verdicts after closing arguments this afternoon followed by more than three hours of deliberations. Little, whose sentencing is set for June 15, faces up to life in prison and a fine of $10 million on the conspiracy count alone. The 61-year-old and 10 others were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to the organized distribution of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine in the Winn Parish and Shreveport areas. Little was found guilty of all four counts of the indictment charging him with conspiring with a woman he was accused of having an affair with to sell drugs. “It’s a great verdict,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley, of the Western District of Louisiana. “All we do is put for the evidence to the jury; in this case, we think justice is served.”

The verdict was reached despite a compelling closing argument from defense attorney Taylor Townsend, who argued that Little was using his alleged mistress “LuLu” Thompson as a criminal informant. Townsend said Little used tactics similar those used by undercover officers but was being held to a different standard. “They’re grading his paper,” said Townsend, who claimed prosecutors were using a double standard that their own undercover troopers violate. The defense attorney also spoke to the jury about Little’s history and the strong anti-drug message he campaigned under. He noted a 25 percent increase in drug arrests in Winn Parish since Little took office and the sheriff’s drug purge from the local jail. Townsend proposed that Thompson was cleverly manipulating the system. He argued that the alleged affair with Little was only rumor and that there was no substantial evidence to support it aside from her “self-serving” testimony. Thompson testified Tuesday against Little and claimed the two carried on an affair for more than three years, a claim Little’s attorneys said is false. The defense claimed Thompson’s testimony is hardly compelling as she offered it in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence on a third felony drug conviction. “Would you send anyone to jail based on the testimony of LuLu Thompson?” Townsend asked. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Jarzabek told a slightly different story. He claimed the defense was using a smokescreen tactic by trying to make the case about the alleged sexual affair. “They would love for this to be about sex,” said Jarzabek, who argued that the sexual affair was unimportant except as the motive for Little’s decisions. “It’s the only explanation for what he did.” Jarzabek said what matters is whether Little aided and protected a known drug dealer. Jarzabek told the jury that not one time did Little tell another law enforcement official that he was working a case involving Thompson in any capacity. He emphasized the taped phone conversations when Little gave Thompson information on the background, criminal history and vehicle license plate of an undercover state trooper. In the end, the jury handed up a unanimous verdict of guilty on all charges. Little left the courtroom in custody with a sad smile and quiet goodbye to his family. “I’m very disappointed,” said Earnest R. Little, Bodie Little’s uncle. “I do not believe the prosecution proved their case. I think (the jury) took the word of a drug dealer over the word of a family man doing good work.”

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