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Sanctioned by ethics board, councilman said alternative was worse

1 week 1 day 12 hours ago May 18, 2017 May 18, 2017 Thursday, May 18 2017 May 18, 2017 11:03 AM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the State Ethics Board Thursday morning, after it launched a confidential investigation that lasted about a year regarding a contract his family business had with the City-Parish of East Baton Rouge.

Amoroso has vehemently denied any wrong doing, since the allegations in question occurred before he was ever sworn into office as a Metro Councilman back in 2013.

"If there's an indication we have done something wrong, I'm willing to go ahead accept my responsibility and pay the fines," Amoroso said. "We will no longer do business with the Office of Community Development. I'm very sorry this has happened."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained documents that show the ethics investigation centered on Amorso and a family business owned by Amoroso's mother, Patricia. The business Prime Properties, LLC, entered into a rental agreement with a tenant who obtained a voucher from the Office of Community Development, Public Housing Agency of the City of Baton Rouge.

Amoroso said he self-reported the issue to the Ethics Board about a year ago, and that's when the Board of Ethics launched an investigation.

The Ethics Board found that Amoroso and his two sisters belong to a management team that manages the day to day operations of Prime Properties, LLC. Prior to Amoroso taking office on January 1, 2013, Prime Properties, LLC entered into a contract with the Public Housing Agency of the City of Baton Rouge, under the Housing and Urban Development Housing Assistance Program. Ethics investigators found between January 1, 2013, through July 29, 2016, Prime Properties, LLC received $27,069 from the Public Housing Agency of the City of Baton Rouge.

State law, RS: 42L1111C (2)(c) states, "No public servant and no legal entity in which the public servant exercises control or owns an interest in excess of 25 percent shall receive any thing of economic value for or in consideration of services rendered."

Amoroso said the tenant in question obtained a voucher from the Mayor's Office prior to him being elected. The tenant was a single mother of five young boys, and lived in the Prime Properties' unit until she terminated her lease in January of this year.

But, the Ethics Board found Amoroso was in violation since at some point of the lease, he was a city-parish councilmen and received a salary from Prime Properties LLC, at a time when Prime Properties LLC had a contract with the Public Housing Agency of the City of Baton Rouge.

The Ethics Board fined Amoroso $5,000 and also assessed a fine to Prime Properties LLC, in the amount of $3,000.

Amoroso said in order for him to be in compliance after being elected, the woman and her family would have been evicted.

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