The state ethics case against a Lafayette developer who faces up to $1.5 million in fines for allegedly contracting with a public agency while serving as chairman of its board could be headed for trial.
The state Ethics Board has accused Greg Gachassin of entering into two $500,000 consulting contracts for low-income housing developments in 2009 while chairman of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing 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.
Gachassin’s attorney, Gray Sexton, argued at a May hearing that all the charges should be thrown out, while attorneys for the state Board of Ethics countered that the case is so open-and-shut that Gachassin should be tagged for the violations without the necessity of a full-blown trial.
The Ethics Adjudicatory Board, which judges state ethics cases, denied both requests, writing in a ruling made public Wednesday that too many issues are in dispute to dismiss the ethics charges or to decide the case without further proceedings.
No trial date has been set. A conference is scheduled for July 7 to discuss the status of the case.
The two $500,000 consulting contracts were for Cypress Trails, a low-income housing development overseen by the LPTFA, and Villa Gardens, a low-income development by the Lafayette Housing Authority that had received a loan from LPTFA.
The $1.5 million in fines Gachassin faces is for the combined value of the contracts, plus a penalty of half the total.
A central issue in the ethics case is 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 has argued the LPTFA, whose members serve without pay, is not a public body but rather a private trust engaging in public projects and that LPTFA members have no obligation to comply with the state ethics code.
The Ethics Board charged Gachassin in 2012.