Former DA investigator guilty of bribery, soliciting sex favors

Published 4:48 am Saturday, December 16, 2017

Acting U.S. Attorney Duane Evans announced Thursday that Michael Cotton, 68, of Bogalusa, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the one-count bill of information charging him with soliciting sexual favors from a woman in exchange for obtaining a bond reduction for her boyfriend.

Cotton was a former investigator with the Office of the District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, which includes St. Tammany and Washington parishes.

Between Dec. 28, 2013, and July 10, 2015, Cotton offered to intervene in legal proceedings and obtain favorable legal outcomes — such as significant reductions in bond — for three female suspects charged with crimes, their friends, family, and significant others who were charged with crimes, in exchange for sexual favors, Evans said.

Evans noted that if females expressed reluctance, Cotton would either imply or state explicitly that he had the ability to influence the criminal justice system to exact harsher penalties against the females or their friends, families, or significant others.

“Mike Cotton was a profoundly corrupt member of the law enforcement community who victimized some of the most vulnerable women in Washington Parish,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New Orleans Field Office. “His guilty plea is an important first step toward holding him accountable for his abuses of power.”

Cotton faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle set sentencing for March 14, 2018.

Evans provided further details about the three incidents that led to Cotton’s arrest.

In July of 2015, Cotton demanded sexual favors from a 23-year-old female identified as “Victim 1,” in exchange for seeking a bond reduction from $25,000 to a $30 signature bond for her boyfriend, a defendant in the Washington Parish jail, Evans said.

In a separate incident, between December of 2013 and March of 2014, Cotton requested sexual favors from a 28-year-old female identified as “Victim 2,” in exchange for arranging for her to retain custody of her minor children and eliminating a drug testing condition she had as the result of prior legal issues. Evans said that Cotton told Victim 2 that he had strong relationships with, and possessed the power to influence, representatives of the Washington Parish Department of Children and Family Services, Judges of the 22nd Judicial District, and the then-District Attorney Walter Reed.

Also, in January of 2014, Cotton used his position as investigator to seek and obtain a significant bond reduction for an incarcerated 23-year-old female identified as “Victim 3,” with whom he had a relationship that involved sexual activity. When, in February of 2014, Victim 3 sought to end her sexual relationship with him, Cotton told her that he would use his position as investigator to influence law enforcement authorities to imprison Victim 3 if she did not resume the sexual relationship, Evans said.

Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. He also thanked the Louisiana Department of Justice: Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office for the 22nd Judicial District, for their cooperation and assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.