Court Roundup

Virginia

Prosecutor agrees to license revocation

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) -- A former Winchester prosecutor facing sentencing on federal charges has agreed to surrender his law license.

Media outlets report that former Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Hampton Thomson agreed to the revocation of his law license last week. The 56-year-old will be eligible to seek his license's reinstatement in five years.

Thomson had been scheduled to appear Friday at a hearing before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board. Defense attorney John P. Flannery II says Thomson decided not to contest the revocation of his law license.

Thomson pleaded guilty in June to cocaine possession and tampering with witnesses and evidence. He's scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 26 in federal court. He remains free on $50,000 bond.

Wyoming

Special prosecutor to decide Willoughby retrial

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) -- A special prosecutor will decide whether a Montana man should be retried in the killing of a woman 26 years ago in Wyoming.

Sublette County Attorney Neal Stelting says his office has a conflict of interest in handling Troy Willoughby's case.

Stelting tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that his office now employs one of Willoughby's former defense investigators.

Willoughby was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison for the 1984 death of Elizabeth Miles Ehlers, of Jackson.

But the conviction was overturned this month by a judge who ruled that investigators withheld evidence that could have helped Willoughby at his trial. The evidence involves a police report that Willoughby argues proves he wasn't at the shooting.

Willoughby remains in state prison.

Louisiana

Slidell woman 'hid' in plain sight for 11 years

SLIDELL, La. (AP) -- A woman who was given a month to put her affairs in order never reported to prison for a four-year fraud sentence and lived out in the open for more than 11 years, working as a paralegal, authorities say.

Linda Jean Doria, 60, was arrested last month at her home in Slidell and was sent Aug. 8 to the Louisiana Transition Center for Women in Tallulah, The Times-Picayune reported Sunday.

Doria told the trooper who arrested her that she never reported in 2000 because she was raising her 10-year-old son on her own, and didn't want him to grow up in state custody, said Trooper Melissa Matey, a Louisiana State Police spokeswoman.

The son, now 21, declined to comment to the newspaper.

Doria had pleaded guilty to three fraud charges, admitting to stealing credit card applications out of mailboxes, applying for the cards in other people's names and using those credit cards to buy groceries, car parts and clothing.

Judge William J. Burris sentenced her to four years at hard labor, and told her to report to the St. Tammany Parish jail at 8 a.m. on April 11, 2000.

Doria continued to work as a paralegal at two law firms in New Orleans. One firm declined to comment on her employment; the other did not return a message seeking information, the newspaper said.

"She wasn't hiding. She was living out in the open," Matey said.

When she failed to report to jail in April 2000 an attachment for her arrest was entered into the National Crime Information Center, a federal database that any law enforcement agency in the country can search.

Even the slightest encounter with police -- a broken taillight, a seat belt violation, a noise disturbance -- would have revealed that attachment. But she lived quietly with her son in a townhouse just a few miles from the condo where they lived when she was convicted of fraud.

In an ideal situation someone would have tracked her down, said Capt. George Bonnett of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office. But her court order was just one in a huge pile.

There are currently 46,492 warrants waiting to be served in St. Tammany Parish, including 28,733 for failure to appear and contempt of court, according to Sheriff's Office records.

"We can't possibly chase down tens of thousands of attachments for fugitives," said Slidell Police Detective Daniel Seuzeneau. "It's unfortunate, but you have to pick and choose your battles."

Had Doria been charged with escaping jail, the Sheriff's Office would have red-flagged the warrant, Bonnett said. But she was never in custody to flee it.

The St. Tammany Parish district attorney's office looked into booking Doria with an additional crime after her arrest in July but there's no charge on Louisiana books for not showing up to jail, said spokesman Rick Wood.

"If they're not a danger to society, we should look for them, but there's not going to be a manhunt," Bonnett said. "We're not going to send out the SWAT team."

Though there was no negligence or carelessness on the part of police, Bonnett said, Doria's vanishing act never should have happened. The Sheriff's Office is re-evaluating how it should approach such attachment orders in the future, he said.

Even so, it's rare for a person to be given time to report to jail rather than be immediately remanded to the Sheriff's Office. Burris, the judge in Doria's case, said he considers it occasionally, such as in a recent case of a man who needed find a caregiver for his quadriplegic wife.

Stories like Doria's make judges even more reluctant to consider such orders, Wood said.

"She just somehow eluded the system," Seuzeneau said. "She was just lucky for 11 years."

Her luck ran out July 27, when the St. Tammany Parish district attorney's office handed the state trooper assigned to their office a stack of fugitive arrest attachments. Doria's was among them.

He went to her townhouse and knocked on the door.

Doria told him she was surprised that she got away with it for so long, Matey said. Her son was grown and in college, she told the trooper. So she went willingly with him.

Published: Tue, Aug 30, 2011