Southern University board member indicted on felony charges following WBRZ report
GONZALES- An Ascension Parish grand jury returned a true bill Monday afternoon against Donald Ray Henry for filing and maintaining false public records— a felony charge.
The indictment comes four months after a WBRZ Investigative Unit report which showed he was representing Southern’s board and voting in elections in an area that he did not live. The report uncovered Henry was voting in elections using a Donaldsonville address so he could keep his Southern Board of Supervisors position. His family said the Donaldsonville house was his “mail address.” However, Henry was claiming a homestead exemption and getting tax breaks where he actually lives— in Gonzales.
Louisiana law outlines why there is an issue: Part of State Law 18:101 B reads, "If a person claims a homestead exemption, pursuant to Article VII, Section 20 of the Constitution of Louisiana, on one of the residences, he shall register and vote in the precinct in which that residence is located.”
The grand jury was made up of seven men and five women, and their decision to hand up an indictment was unanimous.
This summer, the WBRZ Investigative Unit also reported on charges Henry faced after he pushed a levee district commissioner in Lafourche Parish. Those commissioners are appointed by the governor.
Meanwhile, Henry’s position on Southern’s board is also a gubernatorial appointment. When we reached out to John Bel Edwards office after our initial story, they distanced themselves from him saying he was a “Jindal appointee.” A spokeswoman added there wasn’t much they could do to him.
The governor's office released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“Mr. Henry is an appointee from the Jindal Administration and can only be removed for cause. The governor will review the facts that emerge as part of the investigation before making any decision,” said Shauna Sanford, communications director.
This is a developing story, we will have much more tonight on News 2 at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.