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Co-Defendant Agrees to Testify Against Edwards

From Associated Press

A co-defendant of Edwin W. Edwards--the former governor convicted of extorting payoffs for casino licenses--has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Edwards in an insurance fraud case.

David Disiere, owner of a now-defunct insurance company, pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to report a felony.

Under the plea agreement, Disiere will get no prison time. He could have faced a 200-year sentence if convicted of the original charges, which included conspiracy, insurance fraud and witness tampering.

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Disiere also agreed to cooperate with the government in its case against Edwards, Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown and a Disiere attorney. Two others in the case pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy.

The case, set for trial Sept. 18, centers on allegations that Brown and the others set up a sweetheart liquidation deal for Disiere’s insolvent company. Prosecutors say the state should have been paid much more than the $2.5 million it received.

Edwards is accused of offering to help the judge who oversaw the liquidation with an unrelated matter if the judge agreed to treat the insurance company favorably.

Edwards and Brown are under a court-imposed gag order and have limited their public comments.

In a separate case, Edwards was convicted May 9 of fixing casino licenses. He could get up to 250 years in prison at sentencing. No sentencing date has been set.

Edwards also faces charges in a third case involving allegations that he and his son planned to wiretap the telephone of an FBI agent who was investigating them. No trial date has been set in that case.


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