Bribe investigation into Kenny Matassa moves ahead
GONZALES- The epic flooding in our area caused an investigation into an alleged bribe by Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa to be put on hold. Tonight, that investigation is full steam ahead, according to Ascension Parish District Attorney Ricky Babin.
"We had our three lead investigators in the case suffered substantial damage," Babin said."So it did slow us up a bit, but we're meeting again frequently."
This week, key players held a meeting to discuss next steps.
Last month, we showed you a team of investigators from the state and top law enforcement in Ascension Parish gathered to discuss troubling audio recordings released by the Pelican Post Online Newspaper. The recordings appear to show Matassa offering a man who was running for a Gonzales City Council seat a cash and a parish job to exit the race.
"Offering someone to get out of a campaign violates Louisiana criminal statutes," Babin said.
We requested an interview with Kenny Matassa today. His brand new spokesperson referred all questions to his attorney. So we asked his spokesperson whether or not he'd be able to talk about what it was like operating parish government with this cloud hanging over his head. He never made him available for that topic either.
Last month, Matassa's attorney Lance Unglesby defended him.
"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."
Unglesby is talking about Neal Bourque, the man running against Lawson. Pictures online show Bourque does know Matassa well. That's evidenced by the numerous photos of them together appearing to share drinks. There's even one at Matassa's election party.
As the investigation continues, investigators are going over the evidence to see if Matassa broke any laws.
"Once we're complete and in the process to make decisions, we will call a grand jury," Babin said. "We will put this in front of a grand jury and the grand jury will hear all the evidence we have."
Babin expects that to happen within 60 days.