ABBEVILLE — Vermilion Parish Sheriff Mike Couvillon is waiting for an opinion from the Louisiana Board of Ethics on whether his purchase of a home at a sheriff’s sale violated state ethics rules and laws.
An audit of the Sheriff’s Office, which is required annually by the Legislative Auditor’s Office, was released Dec. 2.
The report’s authors noted in one section of the 55-page audit that someone had filed a complaint with the Ethics Board. The complaint was over Couvillon’s possible violation of the prohibitions against transactions between officials and the agencies they run, according to the audit.
Couvillon said Monday he bid on the home at a sheriff’s auction in February after consulting an attorney about the legality of him participating in the auction process to buy the home, which had been foreclosed by a bank.
Because it was not being auctioned off for failure to pay taxes, his attorney’s legal advice was that bidding on the home was OK, Couvillon said. He said a representative at the auction bought the home on his behalf.
“(The attorney) did the research, and two days later, he says, ‘Sheriff, you have no control over this sale. This is not a tax sale. All you’re doing is serving a ministerial position,’ ” Couvillon said, recalling what his attorney, Ike Funderburk, told him.
Funderburk did not immediately return a message left with his office late Monday afternoon.
In February, Couvillon said, he bid $58,000 for the home. The only other bidder — who had an offer of $57,400 — was the bank that had foreclosed and owned the property.
Couvillon said he now lives in the home with his family, after spending $190,000 more to fix it up.
In November, an Ethics Board investigator interviewed Couvillon. Board officials have not ruled or written an opinion, he said.
“I don’t know what the outcome’s going to be,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to hide.”
Couvillon said that if the opinion goes against him, he’ll lodge an appeal.