Former Livingston Parish contractor says message to woman not meant as threat _lowres

Corey delaHoussaye

A state court judge said she will decide next week whether to throw out the criminal charges or suppress evidence against former Livingston Parish contractor Corey delaHoussaye.

DelaHoussaye faces 59 counts of falsifying public records and theft for allegedly overbilling Livingston Parish for wetlands mitigation work after Hurricane Gustav. He has pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorney John McLindon argued Monday that the state Office of Inspector General had no authority to investigate delaHoussaye’s billing and, even if it had, the evidence was gathered using nonexistent search warrant powers and illegal subpoenas.

McLindon said the inspector general is authorized to investigate only “covered agencies,” which are defined by law as bodies of the state’s executive branch. The Livingston Parish Council, which hired delaHoussaye’s firm, does not qualify as a covered agency, McLindon claimed.

Ben Plaia, legal counsel for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, testified Monday that GOHSEP is the body that controls access to the federal emergency funding distributed after disasters like Hurricane Gustav. Any reimbursements the parish received for delaHoussaye’s work would have flowed through GOHSEP, a cabinet-level state agency.

And that, Assistant District Attorney Greg Murphy said, made delaHoussaye’s invoices subject to IG investigation. Murphy also said the Inspector General’s Office is a law enforcement agency with all the same investigatory tools, except arrest powers, and its search warrant and subpoenas in delaHoussaye’s case were legal.

Murphy noted that Judge Brenda Ricks, who is presiding over delaHoussaye’s criminal case in the 21st Judicial District Court, must believe the inspector general has the authority to request search warrants because she signed one in 2011.

“You went way back to find that one, didn’t you?” Ricks asked Murphy.

McLindon also argued that the charges against delaHoussaye are too vague. Murphy replied that McLindon should have requested more-specific information, rather than trying to have the charges quashed altogether.

Ricks gave both sides until Friday to put their arguments in writing and said she will issue a decision next week.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.