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Kenny Matassa wants indictment thrown out, trial date set

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GONZALES - A trial date for embattled Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa will be held in July if the situation is not rectified sooner.

In court today, we learned Matassa's lawyer filed a motion to quash, which essentially would toss out the indictment if it is granted. Lewis Unglesby believes his client didn't do anything wrong. Matassa is accused of offering a bribe for a candidate for Gonzales City Council, Wayne Lawson, to drop out of the race.

"From a law standpoint, there is no case," Unglesby told reporters.  "Mr. Lawson was never a candidate so he can't come under the statute, and the AG's office is going to have to make some decisions on consistency. It's taken a position in the past completely in agreement with mi. Now, in this case, they want to take a different position because it doesn't fit their agenda."

Unglesby has raised issues in the past about Wayne Lawson's residency. He claims Lawson did not live in the district where he was running.

"Mr. Matassa never bribed Lawson, and the whole thing is a huge breakdown in looking at all the evidence and the facts," Unglesby said. "Once you look at that, there's only one conclusion: that Kenny didn't do anything illegal or even tried to."

Matassa was not in court for today's hearing. However, the last time all sides appeared, Jeff Traylor, Prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office, said he intended to file a motion to have the Judges recused. That plan was abandoned, and today things moved forward.

"Just have to be patient, but the process is moving along," Traylor said.

Traylor added he hopes this case sends a message that public corruption of this kind won't be tolerated.

"We take it very very seriously," Traylor said. "A case like this that goes to the heart of our democracy is elections. The charges against the defendant involve fraudulent effect on an election. That's very important. The AG's office, particularly Mr. Landry take that very seriously."

Matassa is due back in court on the motion to quash or throw out the indictment on March 27, 2018. If it is denied, all sides will proceed to a trial on July 10 and 11 of this year.

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