By Owen Woods |


THE felony embezzlement case against former 12th Judicial District Attorney Robert Willett was dismissed Thursday.

The state’s representative, Stephen Potts, chief deputy district attorney for the 5th Judicial District, moved to dismiss after reviewing the case. In the “best interest of justice,” Potts did not believe there was intent to commit any crime by Willett. 

However, without providing more detail, Potts stated that there was a “pattern previously of bonuses being paid. Mr. Willett has refunded the money to the district attorney’s office.” 

Chief District Court Judge Michael Gonzales thanked Potts for reviewing the case with an outside, unbiased eye. He said it “makes a great deal of sense in the particular circumstance of this case.” 

Willett’s attorney, Joseph Maher did not object to the dismissal, but will be filing a motion to have the case sealed. Sealing this case would keep it from the public eye and allow for the charges to remain off any criminal record of Willett’s. 

Gonzales said he would grant the request, citing recent statutory changes to the sealing of files. He will also be vacating the jury trial, and the case now sits in recess. Gonzales also said that the case is being dismissed with prejudice based on the “underlined factual scenario and lack of prosecutorial merit.” 

Dismissing this case with prejudice means that the plaintiffs, or the state’s attorneys, cannot file the same claim again in court. Willett’s trial was set for October 5-7. He was slated to be in court on Sept. 8 for a pre-trial readiness hearing, which would have set the stage for the jury pool selection. 

Willett was accused of embezzling money from the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office during his tenure in 2020. Former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne filed charges against him on March 4 of this year.  

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