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Man who recorded Kenny Matassa offering bribe lifts his silence

7 years 11 months 1 week ago Tuesday, August 02 2016 Aug 2, 2016 August 02, 2016 3:58 PM August 02, 2016 in News
Source: WBRZ

GONZALES- Tonight, the man who claims he received $1,200 and the promise of a parish job from Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa and Businessman Olin Berthelot is lifting his silence.

Wayne Lawson said he was wearing a recording device the entire time and quickly gave the money back.

"It was the responsible thing to do," Lawson said. "I would like them (my voters) to realize this race is not new to me. I've been in it quite a few times. I promise them the same things I did before. There will be honesty, integrity and good representation."

Audio recordings published on the Pelican Post Online Newspaper first brought the allegations of a bribe to light.

Tuesday, WBRZ cameras captured investigators from State Attorney General's Office and Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley entering the Ascension Parish District Attorney's Office. We've learned all were meeting over an investigation into possible felony charges that could be coming for Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa.

"This statute that is called into question is offering someone a thing of value to get out of a political race," District Attorney Ricky Babin said. "So there's several statutes that could apply from malfeasance to straight up bribery."

It was learned by the Investigative Unit that Lance Unglesby has been hired to represent Matassa in dealing with the matter. Unglesby said that Matassa does not plan to resign.

For a second day in a row we've reached out to Kenny Matassa to get his take on the alleged bribe. Yesterday, his spokesperson told us we needed to go through his attorney. But, he wouldn't tell us who his attorney was. Today, our calls were not returned.

"Any public official that's taking a bribe or being anywhere associated with it is disappointing," Babin said. "It undermines confidence in every elected official. I don't know if he did or didn't do it, if the facts prove to be true it will be devastating to this community."

District Attorney Ricky Babin says even though many people in his office, including himself, know Matassa- there are no issues with pursuing prosecution. He's not recusing his office.

"That's one of the reasons why I asked the attorney general to come in and do an assist," Babin said. "My office represents the parish council, government. We don't represent Kenny individually. That's why I thought it would be good to have independent eyes and ears on the case from the beginning."

As Lawson tries to digest what happened, he wants his supporters to know he'd never accept a bribe. Lawson says the days of the good ole boy politics need to come to an end.

"I got into the race for a purpose," Lawson said. Therefore it wasn't my intention to take that bribe to sign the affidavit and get out of the race."

District Attorney Ricky Babin said the investigation could take up to a month. Matassa and Businessman Olin Berthelot could both face charges. Babin said he intends to bring the case before a grand jury.

Right now, authorities are in the process of analyzing the recordings. 

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