Federal Agent Manufactured Case Against Guy... For The Purpose Of Spending More Time With His Mistress
from the damn dept
But where it gets insane is the reason behind all of this. It didn't even have anything to do with Vidrine at all. Apparently, Agent Phillips used the case as a way to spend more time with his mistress, who was also working on the case. Seriously:
One of the more distressing allegations made at trial, involved allegations of Agent Phillips’ sexual, extra-marital affair (and its subsequent “cover up”) with Agent Barnhill. The evidence strongly indicated Agent Phillips deliberately used his investigation and prosecution of Hubert Vidrine to foster, further, facilitate and cloak his extra-marital affair with Agent Barnhill, and perhaps, to exert improper influence over the manner in which she investigated and reported upon this case. Agent Barnhill candidly testified that she and Agent Phillips began a physical, sexual relationship while assigned to this matter, which lasted from approximately 1996 until January or February 2001. Agent Barnhill testified she and Agent Phillips were only physically intimate when working together on the Vidrine case — in other words, they did not meet to pursue their sexual relations on occasions when they were not working the case together. Thus, the case granted the opportunity for those rendez-vous, as well as providing justification for Agent Phillips wife.For all of this, Phillips was charged separately, leading to him recently pleading guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice. Obviously, this is an extreme case, and in no way representative. But the point that it brings up is that law enforcement has tremendous power, and if they choose to go after someone maliciously (or indirectly salaciously), they can make someone's life a living hell on their own whim. This is why we're so often concerned about making sure there's transparency and oversight -- and that those accused of things are able to effectively defend themselves.
During the investigation and prosecution, Agent Barnhill, who was single, lived in South Louisiana; Agent Phillips, who was married, lived in Dallas, Texas with his wife. Prior to and at trial, plaintiffs’ counsel consistently argued Agent Phillips used the Vidrine investigation as a cover, excuse and opportunity to facilitate his illicit affair with Agent Barnhill and to hide the affair from his wife. Plaintiffs consistently argued Keith Phillips manufactured a case, both in law and fact, against Hubert Vidrine, and carefully fed the AUSA and his supervisors only the information which would further that end and perpetuate the case, all to promote access to Agent Barnhill and perpetuate and conceal their illicit affair. Regrettably, the Court agrees with plaintiffs: this inappropriate and unprofessional behavior likely was, at least in part (if not in whole) a motivation for Agent Phillips’ continued pursuit of Hubert Vidrine, without probable cause, and certainly with a complete and total reckless disregard of Hubert Vidrine’s rights.