LIVINGSTON — The case against former Livingston Parish contractor Corey Delahoussaye, accused of overbilling for work after Hurricane Gustav, will move forward to trial after a state court judge on Monday refused to recuse the District Attorney’s Office.
Delahoussaye said the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office should be prohibited from prosecuting him because an assistant district attorney previously gave him legal advice on issues related to his contract with the parish.
Livingston Parish hired Delahoussaye’s firm, C-Del Inc., in October 2009 to help resolve wetlands permit and mitigation issues lingering from the parish’s cleanup efforts after Hurricane Gustav. The Parish Council terminated its contract with C-Del in August 2011 after raising concerns about the firm’s $2 million in invoices.
State District Judge Brenda Ricks said Monday that she found no reason at this point to recuse the District Attorney’s Office from the case.
Delahoussaye’s attorney, John McLindon, said he would likely ask the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to review the ruling.
McLindon had argued in July that the entire office should be recused because then-parish legal adviser Blayne Honeycutt, an appointed assistant district attorney, gave Delahoussaye legal advice on numerous occasions. Honeycutt and District Attorney Scott Perrilloux also might be necessary witnesses at trial, he said.
The rules of professional conduct require the recusal of the entire District Attorney’s Office if any of its members has a conflict of interest, McLindon said.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Murphy argued that Honeycutt was never Delahoussaye’s attorney and, even if he had been, the information Honeycutt gained from him was not used in issuing his charges.
Leaving court Monday, Delahoussaye said he was “very disappointed” in the ruling.
“I thought the evidence (for recusal) was overwhelming,” he said.
Perrilloux disagreed, saying in a telephone interview that Delahoussaye’s motion was unfounded and simply a delay tactic.
“If he truly feels like he has a defense, it shouldn’t matter who’s prosecuting him,” Perrilloux said.
Perrilloux’s office filed an 81-count bill of information against Delahoussaye in December after a parish grand jury declined to indict him on allegations he falsified timesheets and billing invoices submitted to the parish. The grand jury vote was 8-2, one vote shy of the nine needed for indictment.
Delahoussaye, who pleaded not guilty on all counts, has called his prosecution “malicious.” He said the District Attorney’s Office, as well as the parish president and council, became hostile toward him after he reported allegedly improper and illegal debris removal work following the 2008 storm.
The U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in binding arbitration June 30 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not owe any of the additional $59 million the parish had claimed in cleanup costs. FEMA already awarded the parish about $11 million for the work.
Delahoussaye was accused of playing golf, working out at a health club and taking his children to swim meets during times he claimed to have been working for the parish.
He has sued the parish in federal court for retaliation and reinstatement of a $379,000 check Parish President Layton Ricks stopped payment on after taking office in January 2012.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.