LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The state Board of Ethics and a Lafayette developer faced off at a hearing on whether he should face $1.5 million in fines on allegations of contracting with a public agency while still serving as chairman of its board.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1d0dKyZ ) Greg Gachassin is accused of signing two $500,000 consulting contracts for low-income housing developments while serving as chairman of the Lafayette Public Trust Housing Authority, which helped finance both developments.
The LPTFA is a self-supporting public authority that makes money through investments, mortgage financing and loans, then uses the proceeds to support public projects.
The Thursday hearing before a three-member Ethics Adjudicatory Board was on a request by Ethics Board attorneys to fine Gachassin $1.5 million without further hearings and on a counter-request by Gachassin's attorney, Gray Sexton, to dismiss the case, or at least part of it.
The Adjudicatory Board made no decision Thursday, taking the case under advisement.
At issue in much of a hearing was whether the LPTFA is considered a public agency and whether Gachassin, as its chairman, was a public servant subject to state ethics laws that would bar him from using his position to enrich himself.
Sexton argued the LPTFA, whose members serve without pay, is not a public body but rather a private trust engaging in public projects and LPTFA members have no obligation to comply with the state ethics code.
Ethics Board attorney Michael Dupree said the LPTFA members are appointed by a government agency - the Lafayette City-Parish Council - and state law stipulates all public trusts shall adhere to the "Code of Ethics."
The two $500,000 consulting contracts at the heart of the ethics case were dated Nov. 1, 2009, a few weeks before Gachassin stepped down from the LPTFA.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com