NEW ORLEANS, La.--Attorneys for former St Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed and his son, Steven Reed, argued before a federal judge Wednesday to try to get their convictions thrown out.
A jury convicted Walter Reed in May on 18 counts ranging from conspiracy to fraud for, among other things, using campaign contributions for personal use. They found Steven guilty on three counts against him.
Attorneys for the Reeds filed motions for acquittal or a new trial in the case to try to get their convictions thrown out. They made their oral arguments in front of U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon Wednesday. He is expected to rule on the motions at a later time.
Walter Reed's attorney Rick Simmons argued the charges should've been handled by the state of Louisiana or the Louisiana Board of Ethics, not federal prosecutors.
"We've seen, federal politicians and state politicans, this is an indiscretion and you get fined. $2,000 fine and that's what it should be about. Here, they're making money laundering cases out of $5,000 of campaign contributions. And that's where we think the line has to be drawn," Simmons said in an interview after the Wednesday hearing.
Simmons said a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell restricts federal prosecutors' ability to prosecute corruption cases. McDonnell is accused of accepting lavish gifts from a supporter in exchange for using his office to help the man.
The Supreme Court ruled the allegations must be akin to bribery in order to justify a federal prosecution.
"No kickback, no bribe, the Federal Government shouldn't be enforcing state campaign law," Simmons said.
But in court, prosecutors argued Reed's conviction was for fraud and that the McDonnell decision doesn't apply.
Throughout Reed's prosecution, Simmons has consistently made the argument that Walter Reed's actions should be punished by state administrative action, not a federal criminal conviction, but those arguments made no traction with Judge Fallon.
In court Wednesday, Fallon questioned whether Simmons' argument should apply in all cases, "If an elected official is gambling in Las Vegas and paying off his gambling debt with campaign funds, and the state doesn't go after him, is it, well, that's it in the United States?"
Steven Reed obtained a new lawyer and argued Wednesday that his trial attorney, Glenn Burns, was ineffective because he didn't make the case that Steven was following his father's instructions. The two men were tried together and Reed's new lawyer said if they had argued Steven was following Walter's lead that it would have Walter's case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsburg told the judge that was a strategic decision, not one that's indicative of ineffective counsel.