Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa acquitted after bribery trial

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa acquitted after bribery trial - 6 p.m.
Published: Jul. 11, 2018 at 9:36 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2018 at 3:42 PM CDT
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GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click here to watch live.

Parish President Kenny Matassa has been acquitted of charges after the trial wrapped up Wednesday afternoon.

Matassa's attorney made a motion to acquit during the trial, and the motion was granted.

Matassa was accused of bribing Gonzales City Council candidate, Wayne Lawson, to get him to withdraw from that race back in 2016. Lawson made recordings of that exchange, but the state could not get those tapes admitted as evidence until the second day of the trial.

Matassa and his attorney, Lewis Unglesby, maintain the cash exchange was a "friendly loan" to Lawson, who had "fallen on hard times," according to Matassa's political ally and co-defendent, Olin Berthelot.

Berthelot is also accused of bribery in this case. He agreed to testify for the state in exchange for a lighter sentence. The state questioned Berthelot, who corroborated Matassa's claims. The state's line of questioning was not aggressive and the answers did not reflect poorly on Matassa.

"It is a terrible thing; I mean, he got drug into this by his friend, two friends," said Unglesby. "He didn't do anything. Wasn't doing anything. Wasn't ever trying to do anything improper, and he didn't do anything improper. And just being polite, a nice fella. That's what happens."

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