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Prosecution Won’t Call Major Witness; Defense Angry

April 23, 1986

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they won’t call one of their major witnesses in Gov. Edwin Edwards’ racketeering retrial to the stand, prompting defense accustions of misconduct.

The witness, state health department employee John Landry, is alleged to have been given a job promotion in return for helping Edwards and the others carry out an allegedly illegal hospital scheme.

U.S. Attorney John Volz said he wouldn’t call Landry to the stand because Landry failed to tell the whole story in Edwards’ first trial, which ended with a hung jury Dec. 18.

Defense lawyers immediately charged that they and U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais were being ″sandbagged″ by the prosecution. They said hearsay testimony involving Landry was allowed to be heard during the second trial only because prosecutors had indicated that Landry was to testify later.

They said they would move to have all charges against Edwards and the others thrown out on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

Livaudais, without comenting on the arguments, set a hearing for Monday.

Edwards, his brother, Marion, and business associates Gus Mijalis, Ron Falgout and James Wyllie Jr., were indicted Feb. 28, 1985 on racketeering and fraud charges. Prosecutors said they used their influence before and after Edwards took office in 1984 to obtain state certification for hospital and nursing home projects in which they made $10 million.

A key element in the case is the claim Landry was offered a promotion by the alleged conspirators prior to Edwards’ election in October 1983. For the promotion, Landry was to help the conspirators obtain certification of a hospital project in Gonzales owned by Falgout, Wyllie and Edwards.

Certification was granted, and Wyllie, Falgout and Edwards made hundreds of thousands of dollars when the project was sold. Landry was promoted after Edwards won the election and took office in March 1984.

Edwards and several defense witnesses in the first trial said the governor had nothing to do with the promotion.

Landry’s testimony during the first trial was inconclusive. At one point he said he wasn’t sure whether he was offered the promotion by Falgout or by Sonny Powell, named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator .

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