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Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa acquitted in bribery trial

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UPDATE: The judge has granted the defense's motion to acquit the charges against Kenny Matassa.

GONZALES- The first day of Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa’s bribery trial concluded with big problems for the Attorney General’s Office.

For the better part of the afternoon, prosecutors tried to admit recordings of the alleged bribe Matassa offered into evidence. Much of the case hinges on those recordings, but when the trial wrapped up for the day shortly after 5 p.m., those recordings were still not admitted into evidence.

Prosecutors say Matassa offered a bribe to Wayne Lawson to drop out of the race for a Gonzales City Council seat. Matassa’s attorney said in prior interviews the money was a loan to a friend.

The state has at least 15 witnesses that will testify in this case. Already, almost half of them took the stand.

Matassa’s lawyer spent all day shooting holes in the investigation and the recordings that captured the alleged bribe. Lewis Unglesby argued in court that most recordings admitted into evidence follow a chain of custody. A 911 call was used as an example. Once a recording happens, limited people have access to it to preserve the integrity of it.

That was not the case in the recordings of the alleged bribe. Unglesby argued there’s no way to tell how many people touched them.

“This has been just terrible for Kenny,” Unglesby said referring to the charges he’s been fighting.

Prosecutors declined to comment when they exited the courtroom. The trial resumes at 8:30 in the morning Wednesday.


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