Residents concerned bribery probe against Ascension Parish President has stalled

Concerned Ascension Parish resident (Source: WAFB)
Concerned Ascension Parish resident (Source: WAFB)
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Some folks in Ascension Parish believe an investigation into bribery allegations against Parish President Kenny Matassa have stalled.

The group, called Concerned Citizens of Ascension Parish, held a fiery meeting Wednesday night about the lack of progress in the investigation into allegations that Matassa took part in a bribery scheme last year to convince a candidate to d rop out of the Gonzales City Council race. The allegations first surfaced in August of 2016 after online newspaper, Pelican Post, shared audio recordings, which claim to catch the bribe in action.

The case was supposed to go before a grand jury in November after Attorney General Jeff Landry was called in to assist. That hearing was postponed, and now residents like Jeff Pettit are asking why.

"We're looking at over six months," Pettit said. "This thing needs to be brought to a resolution and laid to rest so the parish can move forward. Until it's done, we cannot do that."

He and others are calling for Matassa to be recalled and are already looking into forming a petition to do just that.

"Hopefully we can generate some interest and get enough names on the recall petition and we'll see if the interest is there and that's part of the reason this meeting is being held tonight," Pettit added.

Apart from the petition, others at the community meeting say they want the hearing to move forward as soon as possible and cannot believe that what they are calling a clear case of corruption has been allowed to stand.

"At this point, it's in the AG's hands and he needs to make sure that this gets going and we do what we have to do," said Michelle Rodriguez.

More than anything though, these residents say they want answers. "We want to know what's taking place, if anything's going to take place, and if he is going to fall in line and just let this d rop by the wayside," added Chase Melancon.

When asked for comment, Attorney General spokeswoman, Ruth Wisher, said Landry is not able to comment on grand jury proceedings at this time. Matassa's lead attorney, Lewis Unglesby, provided the following statement in response to the meeting and the calls for a petition to recall his client:

I'm sure those are nice people, but they are misled and do not know the facts. There is nothing that will come from this, never was, and never will be. Mr. Matassa is doing a good job as a public servant.

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