Grand jury hears case against Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa
GONZALES- A grand jury convened today to hear bribery allegations against Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa.
Matassa is accused of offering a bribe to get a man running for office in Gonzales to drop out of the race. Last year, a team of investigators met with District Attorney Ricky Babin about the case. Babin has since recused his office, and the State Attorney General's Office took over.
Audio recordings released last year by the Pelican Post Newspaper appeared to show Matassa and another businessman in Ascension Parish offering a bribe to Wayne Lawson, a candidate for Gonzales City Council. Lawson claims he was offered $1,200 to drop out of the race and was promised a job by Matassa if he made a fast exit.
Wade Petite, the Owner of the Pelican Post received a subpoena to be in court today, but quickly learned he wasn't needed there this morning.
"The Assistant Attorney General in charge told me they would not get to me today," Petite said. "The grand jury proceeding will be conducted in two parts, part one today."
Petite said the slow pace of how this case is moving is frustrating.
"The lack of urgency is most disturbing for most of us," Petite said.
Before Babin recused his office Babin said, "Offering someone to get out of a campaign violated Louisiana criminal statutes."
Matassa's attorney, Lance Unglesby said last year Matassa was just offering a loan to a friend.
"This is not a bribe," Unglesby said. "The word bribe is being loosely used here. It's personal advice from one friend to another, not a bribe at all. Bribe would be the best interest of the councilman who would be the opponent of Mr. Lawson who my client has hardly ever met."
The Investiagative Unit showed you Lawson's opponent Neal Bourque knew Matassa very well. That was proven by multiple pictures on facebook that show the duo drinking together and at various events.
"I don't intend to let this be swept under the rug," Petite said outside of court.
The grand jury hearing will be continued at a later date which has not been set.
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