CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A federal judge has denied Commissioner Michael Williams' request to not enter his written statement to FBI agents into evidence.
After an hour and a half of testimony, Mag. Judge Mark L. Hornsby denied the "Motion to Suppress Statement" on November 23.
Late November 24, the written statement became public record as it was entered into evidence into the Public Acess to Court Electronic Records website.
Authorities say Michael Williams tried to defraud the Caddo Commission and the organization he helped create SWAG Nation USA, Inc. The organization is a mentoring program for young men in the area. Williams pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Within the statement, signed by Williams, he apologized several times for his actions, even admitted to wrong doing.
However, the "Motion to Suppress Statement" reveal Williams doesn't believe his statement was voluntary. The document argues because the FBI did not record the interrogation, it violated Williams' rights.
"Commissioner Williams contends that this statement was not voluntary and the failure to record the interrogation, as the interviews of other witnesses were recorded, amounts to a violation of his right to due process of law pursuant to the Due Process Clause," the motion read.
According to the document, "the weight of the great psychological pressure imposed by the agents during the interview was sufficient to produce a strong outpouring of emotion from the Commissioner at the time of the interrogation, thus causing him to compose the written statement as directed by the investigators."
It goes on to explain, the only record of the interrogation is the end result, "This seemingly inculpatory statement of wrongdoing entirely scripted by the interrogators and written by Commissioner Williams at their demand."
SWAG Nation continues to openly supported Williams.
"Michael did not do anything wrong where swag nation is concerned," said SWAG Nation Vice President and Secretary Lester Smith, who initially had not read Williams' statement.
But prior to the interview, KSLA News 12 gave Smith a copy of Williams' statement.
"My reaction to it is I don't see where he is admitting guilt," Smith said after reading the statement. "I understand in my interpretation is if he has done something wrong he is asking for forgiveness from SWAG Nation and the public that he represents," Smith went on to explain, he doesn't see Williams admitting wrong-doing, just the practices he used may not have been the best.
According to Smith, the SWAG Nation board allowed Williams to use the SWAG Nation's money as a reimbursement for the money Williams had put up to start the group. Smith disagrees that their money is public money.
"The money that Michael withdrew, that money was no longer public funds, it belonged to Swag Nation, how we choose to spend that money is at our discretion," said Smith.
Williams wrote in the statement: "The Swag Nation funds I used for personal use to go on trips , gas, the boat, was appropriated from the Caddo Parish Commission..." he goes on to say if he could rewrite history he would. "When we approved he could get some of this money, I never said, you can spend the money on [etc], the money was his," he said.
Despite the written statement, Smith maintains Williams is innocent.
"If Michael is wrong, the board is wrong, because we gave him permission, we didn't think we were doing nothing wrong," said Smith.
Williams' attorney, Elton B. Richey, has until December 10 to decide whether to oppose the judge's decision to deny the motion to suppress evidence.
According to Richey, an objection could lead to an appeal, which in turn could lead to a district judge overturning the motion denial. Richey said he has not decided whether to oppose the judge's decision.
Williams' next court date is set December 17. His original trial date was set for January 19, 2016 but has since been upset due to scheduling conflicts.
A new date will be decided at the December 17 status conference.