Local attorney, 77, accused of smuggling drugs to inmate, helping pay off witnesses
BATON ROUGE - A longtime local attorney is charged in a felony case that accuses him of trying to smuggle drugs to an inmate inside the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and -- in a separate matter -- of trying to pay witnesses so they would not to show up in court.
Stephen Carver Leblanc, 77, has been practicing law in Louisiana since 1973.
Records reviewed by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show that his initial arrest follows an incident on Nov. 2 in which Leblanc went to the jail to meet with a client -- Leroy George -- being held on a murder charge and facing additional felony counts.
According to investigative records: The defendant walked through the gate entering the secured part of the prison area carrying a manila folder and other paperwork. The defendant walked past several visible signs prohibiting entrance into the facility with contraband. The defendant entered unit one building at 1406 hours, then attempted to give a deputy the manila folder advising the manila folder (contained) paperwork for George...
The deputy who received the paperwork noticed the top sheet stated, "Dietary Supplemental Menu for Diagnosis Hypertension for: Leroy George, III." The sheets in the middle were saturated with some form of chemical. Immediately suspecting contraband, she put on gloves for her protection prior to handling the papers.
Arrest records show no legal documents were in the folder, and that George became angry when he did not receive the contents of the folder.
A narcotics agent took possession of the papers. A field test was ruled "inconclusive," but later testing at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab determined that the documents "contained controlled dangerous substances."
Records said that "confidential sources have estimated the inside prison value of each sheet of paper with the controlled dangerous substance could be ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), for the potential total value of one hundred ten thousand dollars ($110,000.00)."
An investigation suggests that George needed money to pay Leblanc for his services.
Leblanc was booked in that case on Nov. 7. He was re-booked on Nov. 29 on a count of corrupt influencing.
In the latter case, Leblanc is accused of taking checks from a different client, also charged with murder, as part of an effort to pay off witnesses and to prevent their appearance in court.
That client, Curtis Lee Stewart, Jr., has also been charged with a felony count of corrupt influencing.
Investigators cited incriminating phone calls, which were recorded, as they laid out their case.
“I’m 77 years old planning to finish the cases I have and retire,” Leblanc told WBRZ in a statement following inquiries, adding: "When a client directs his attorney to disburse the client's funds to someone, my understanding of the attorney disciplinary rules requires the attorney to disburse the client’s funds as directed by the client.”
Regarding the folder that contained the drug-laced paperwork, Leblanc said in a statement: "I trusted a client’s disabled mother who asked me to deliver an article to her son for his medical problem would not contain drugs. I’ve paid a high price for not checking the article. I’ve always thought that anything I can do to make the life of a client in jail better, I’ll do it, unfortunately, in both these cases, much to my regret. I’ve been doing this for over 50 years. Now it’s time to finish up and retire."
Leblanc posted bond and was released on Wednesday. Online records show no disciplinary action against him by the state board that regulates attorney conduct.
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