Former DA investigator sentenced after pleading guilty to soliciting sex for bond reduction

Former DA investigator sentenced after pleading guilty to soliciting sex for bond reduction
Michael Cotton. Source: Fox 8 Archives

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A former investigator with the 22 Judicial District Attorney's Office, which serves St. Tammany and Washington parishes, was sentenced Wednesday for crimes he pleaded guilty to in December of 2017.

Michael Cotton, 68, of Bogalusa, pleaded guilty to a one-count bill of information after soliciting sexual favors from a woman in exchange for obtaining a bond reduction for her boyfriend.

Cotton was sentenced to 37 months in prison.

According to court documents, Cotton was responsible for investigating matters involving the issuance of bad checks, including initiating cases, reviewing records, interacting with victims, collecting fees and restitution from offenders, and obtaining warrants from municipal judges.

Cotton was in possession of and displayed a law enforcement badge and credentials representing the District Attorney's Office in interactions with criminal defendants and witnesses in ongoing investigations. He also  had access to sensitive, case-related information.

Cotton regularly corresponded with, had access to, and provided case-related recommendations to assistant district attorneys.

Between December 28, 2013, and July 10, 2015, Cotton offered to intervene in legal proceedings and obtain favorable outcomes such as significant reductions in bond for three women's crimes as well as their friends, family, and significant others crimes in exchange for sexual favors.

If the women declined, court documents say Cotton would either imply or state explicitly that he had the ability to influence the criminal justice system to exact harsher penalties against them or their friends and families.

In July 2015, Cotton demanded sexual favors from a 23-year-old woman who was identified as the first victim 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.

Between December 2013 and March 2014, Cotton requested sexual favors from a 28-year-old woman in exchange for arranging for her to keep custody of her minor children and eliminating a drug-testing condition she had as the result of prior legal issues.

Cotton told her that he had strong relationships with, and had the 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.

In January 2014, Cotton used his position as investigator to seek and obtain a significant bond reduction for an jailed  a third victim, a 23-year-old woman, with whom he had a relationship that involved sexual activity.

When the third victim sought to end her sexual relationship with him in February, Cotton told her that he would use his position to have her jailed again if she didn't resume the sexual relationship.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

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