NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans District Attorney candidate and City Councilman Jason Williams doubles down on his intention to run against incumbent Leon Cannizzaro. This after a federal grand jury indicted Williams for alleged tax fraud.
Williams' attorney says his client will plead not guilty.
When word of a federal investigation hit three weeks ago against Williams he went on the attack.
“What this really is, is the beginning of Leon Cannizzaro’s re-election campaign,” said Williams then.
Now three days after the Feds charged him in an 11 count tax fraud indictment, Williams put out a statement saying, “I have led the fight against Leon Cannizzaro and his repressive and illegal prosecutorial tactics,” and “I am not backing down.”
“It’s not surprising that he would double down on a race that he committed to two years ago,” said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.
In his statement Williams accused Cannizzaro of prosecutorial and political misconduct, saying Cannizzaro and his inner circle have “used that same power and influence to come after me in an effort to scare me away from running for D.A. and interfere with yet another election.”
“If true, that is a damning allegation but today we have seen no evidence and that will be something we want to follow very closely in the coming weeks,” said Sherman.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell weighs in on the Williams' indictment.
"There's a process in place for accountability across the board. I will continue to pray for him and wish him well as he moves through the allegations before him," said Cantrell.
As for the charges against him, Williams blamed Henry Timothy, his tax preparer, for categorizing $720,000 as false business expenses over the last five years as laid out in the indictment.
”You can go to a tax preparer and you can seek advice but ultimately the responsibility is yours. It is your tax return,” said Tulane law professor Joel Friedman. He says for prosecutors to get a guilty verdict, they’ll have to prove that Williams intended to defraud the government.
Williams attorney, Billy Gibbens tells FOX 8 he believes Henry Timothy, the tax preparer, will testify against Williams if the case goes to trial.
Gibbens says he spoke with Timothy back In April and says, “Timothy told me he made all the tax decisions.” He adds, ”When Timothy found out he was under investigation by the IRS he changed his story and now he’s saying Jason and Nicole pressured him into taking the deductions.”
Gibbens is referring to attorney Nicole Burdette who the feds also indicted.
“The timing of the trial for me is everything it’s almost impossible to believe the trial could take place before the election,” said Sherman.
An election now set for November 3.
Cannizzaro put out this statement, saying, “Councilman Jason Williams’ legal problems are strictly of his own making. Blaming others for his criminal charges, or arrogantly seeking to fundraise oﬀ them, are but desperate attempts to divert attention from an 11-count indictment that details a compelling case against a corrupt politician.”
Jason Williams and Nicole Burdette are set for their first court appearance July 10.
We reached out to tax preparer Henry Timothy, but have not heard back.