Attorney General wants judges in Ascension recused from Matassa case
GONZALES- Prosecutors for the Attorney General's office said in court today they intend to file a motion to have the judges recused in Ascension Parish regarding the Matassa case.
At least one of the judges, Jason Verdigets, already recused himself. He is having to work closely with Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa on plans for a new courthouse.
The motion will have to be filed within five days and it’s likely an ad hoc judge would make the decision.
Matassa is accused of offering a bribe to a candidate for Gonzales City Council. That bribe would have been in exchange for him dropping out of the City Council race.The meeting where the alleged bribe was offered was recorded. Those recordings were published to the Pelican Post, an online newspaper.
Publisher Wade Petite was subpoenaed in court to produce certain financial documents. But, Petite said many of the documents Matassa's attorney, Lewis Unglesby, was requesting did not exist.
"Mr. Unglesby is prostituting himself, saying things, he has no basis in fact," Petite said. "He has to represent his client. I understand that. Everybody heard the recordings. They are publicly available."
Unglesby said, "It's a politically motivated case by the attorney general trying to make a name for himself. I'm not embarrassed to call Jeff Landry out on that. He should be embarrassed for supporting the idea of dishonest government and that's what he's working for."
Proseuctors quickly fired back.
"Mr. Unglesby can say what he likes, we don't have any comment on that," Prosecutor Jeff Traylor said. "We are just here to get a trial date and present the case to the people of Ascension Parish."
Unglesby added his client is ready to put this behind him.
"No one likes to have to get up in the morning, come to the courthouse and have their name besmirched. No one enjoys being on the front page of the paper, headline that he got indicted by some goofy made up legal theory that has no basis," Unglesby said. "Nobody likes that."
Matassa's trial is scheduled for February 21, but will likely be pushed back if prosecutors file a motion for the remaining judges recusal.