NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some potentially damaging testimony Monday from a former assistant district attorney in the federal corruption trial of his former boss. Also, on the stand in the Walter Reed trial, a woman who Reed reportedly met online.
The prosecution called Melissa Skillingstad to the stand. She testified that she met the former North Shore district attorney on a social media website in 2011, and that Walter Reed sent her an online message telling her he reserved a private room for a Thanksgiving dinner at the pricey restaurant The Dakota for 25 friends and family members. Skillingstad said she met Reed four or five times in person and he even bought her flowers for her birthday.
Reed is accused of using campaign money for personal items like flowers, expensive dinners and funneling payments to his son Steven's companies.
Kyle Ursin who is the son of one of Walter Reed's former girlfriends also testified Monday. Ursin said Reed threw him birthday parties while he was in high school. When a prosecutor asked Ursin who paid for the party? Ursin said, "Walter did. That was the condition of having the party because my Mom wouldn't have been able to pay for a party like that."
But some of the most damaging testimony may have come from a former assistant district attorney who once worked for Walter Reed. Leo Hemelt said he first realized something was wrong in 2014 after seeing a Lee Zurik investigation into Reed. Hemelt said, "there were some news stories coming out. Mr. Lee Zurik was reporting some events going on."
Hemelt says he attended St. Tammany Parish Hospital board meetings in place of Reed thinking that was part of his job responsibilities. But, he says he found out Reed received direct payments from the hospital to attend those meetings. Hemelt said Reed later asked him to sign an affidavit saying he went to the meetings as a favor to Reed. Hemelt wouldn't sign it and left the D.A.'s office.
Reed faces charges of conspiracy, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, as well as filing false statements on his tax returns. Reed has pleaded not guilty to the charges.