Despite confession, former East Feliciana Coroner enters not guilty pleas
BATON ROUGE- Even though she already admitted to investigators she participated in a scheme to falsify records and not keep records, the embattled ex-coroner of East Feliciana Parish entered a not guilty plea in a Baton Rouge Courtroom Tuesday.
Laura Dejohn is being prosecuted by the State Attorney General. She is facing charges of filing and maintaining false public records and conspiracy to file and maintain false public records.
During Dejohn's time as coroner, her prior attorney told WBRZ she kept no written records. When the WBRZ Investigative Unit first reported on the problem two years ago, we were told she operated her office on a strictly "verbal basis."
Tuesday, Dejohn walked into the Baton Rouge courthouse showing our crew her middle finger. When we asked if she was flipping us off, she said that was just the way she clutches her papers and keys. It, however, was not the first time she slyly sighted us while we were filming. Last year as she exited the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, she ducked down in a waiting car, despite us already getting shots of her. Six months earlier, she ran away from our cameras and hid in a public building. When she emerged, District Attorney Sam D'Aquila was by her side and walking her to her car.
To this day, the current Coroner in East Feliciana, Dr. Michael Cramer said he has not received records from when she was in office.
"I haven't been given any records to this day," Cramer said.
Dejohn's attorney said his client maintains her innocence. When we asked about why her old attorney told us she kept no written records, Brant Mayer said, "We're not prepared to give any statement on what her old attorney said. We haven't received that statement, so we have no response to that."
As this case proceeds through the court system, Dejohn will have an uphill battle to fight with that prior confession. Her assistant, Melanie Vines is also implicated in this case. She also confessed and said Dejohn ordered her to conceal her involvement in the completion of certain documents.
"It's justice," Cramer said. "It works slowly sometimes, and we must have to be patient with the judicial system, but her day in court will come."
Dejohn is due back in court at the end of July. The initial date that was scheduled for her court appearance was rescheduled since she is being treated by doctors in Florida.