A disgraced former Caddo Parish commissioner who went to federal prison for wire fraud wants a pardon.
In a speech sprinkled with Bible verses, Michael Williams on Monday asked Caddo commissioners to pass a resolution urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to pardon Williams and send a clemency request to President Donald Trump.
“Exonerate me and help me start my recovery," he said.
Williams, of Shreveport, spent more than $8,500 in taxpayer money from SWAG Nation, a nonprofit organization he controlled, making a combination of cash withdrawals and debit card purchases from the organization’s checking account. While a commissioner representing District 3, Williams voted to direct $100,000 in public money to the nonprofit and didn’t disclose that he was associated with it.
He served 14 months in federal prison and is still on supervised probation.
Monday, Williams called the case against him "a conspiracy and a plot."
“I was framed for something I didn’t do," Williams said. "They just wanted me out of politics, and they camouflaged it by using SWAG Nation as a tool to get to me."
While under indictment in 2015, Williams ran for re-election. He lost to Steven Jackson. Williams’ conviction in 2016 barred him from seeking public office unless he receives a federal pardon.
In November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Caddo Commission wasn’t entitled to restitution and ordered the commission to repay the money to Williams.
“There is nothing to suggest that the Parish Commission did not receive the services for which it contracted, nor to suggest that it paid more than the fair market value,” the court said in its opinion. “The Parish Commission paid SWAG Nation after the contracted-for program was held.”
The court upheld Williams’ conviction.
Williams referred to the Fifth Circuit's decision on restitution during his 20-minute speech -- but he didn't mention the court's ruling on his conviction.
A smattering of applause accompanied Williams as he left the lectern Monday afternoon.
Commissioner Lyndon Johnson added Williams to the visitor's section at William's request. He and other commissioners offered no comments to Williams after the speech.