LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A key witness has pleaded guilty and avoided prison in the racketeering case against former Knight Oil Tools executive Mark Knight.

The Advertiser reports that 47-year-old Russell Manuel's plea bargain includes a suspended sentence and five years of probation on each of four criminal charges.

Prosecutors dropped two counts under the plea agreement made Thursday in state district court.

Knight is accused of paying Manuel, a state trooper and a sheriff's deputy to plant illegal drugs in his brother's vehicle, and to have his brother arrested during a dispute over company ownership.

Manuel pleaded guilty to conspiracy, intimidating a witness, and two drug counts. Prosecutors dropped an extortion charge and a drug charge.

Defense attorney Pat Magee says Manuel is looking forward to testifying against his co-defendants.

(Information from: The Advertiser,


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