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Jonesboro trial continues with an investigative auditor taking the stand

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JONESBORO, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The trial involving Mayor Leslie Thompson who is facing 15 years in prison for three counts of malfeasance in office has entered its ninth day of court. So far only state witnesses have taken the stand to testify. Our Nolan Crane was in the courtroom and has more.

The investigative auditor testified under oath that the town of Jonesboro under the leadership of Mayor Thompson spent more than $50,000 of town funds to pay for benefits and insurance premiums for employees who were not eligible.

Investigative auditor Greg Clapinski testified that the town of Jonesboro was footing the bill for benefits and insurance premiums for six part time employees. They also paid for former elected officials and employees, which is one of the charges against Mayor Thompson.

Clapinski also claimed that the town issued refund checks to homeowners for utilities. Sometimes the checks would be returned to the town if the homeowners moved. He claims the town didn't send those checks to the state which is required.

During cross examination Thompson's attorneys found out that the checks go back to 1996. Therefore, it isn't only Thompson who wasn't in compliance. So far the jury has only heard from the state's witnesses because they have the burden of proof when it comes to the charges of Mayor Thompson. The attorneys say with almost 50 witnesses sworn in they are not in a huge hurry.

"It's going to take some time to kind of blow through the situation," said Carol Powell Lexing.

"I think that everyone is getting a fair chance to ask everything that they want and there is not going to be any basis for objection at least on that score. That's about as far as I can go with that," said Lea Hall.

Although the lawyers want to be thorough they are also aware of the jurors attention span as this case goes on.

"It's always a concern for me because sometimes if you spread out a trial too long they will be listening at first and sometimes later on could very well become desensitized," said Louis Scott.

There are 32 witnesses for Mayor Leslie Thompson's defense who were sworn in and took an oath. Attorneys say that doesn't mean all of them will be testifying. They are scheduled to start take the stand as witnesses beginning on Monday.

 

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