Prosecutors will get a second shot at proving evidence the state Inspector General’s Office obtained against Corey delaHoussaye should be allowed at trial to show he overbilled Livingston Parish for post-Hurricane Gustav work.
The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that the trial judge used the wrong legal standard for suppressing the evidence and must hold another hearing on the matter.
Judge Brenda Ricks, of the 21st Judicial District Court in Livingston, ruled in May that the Inspector General’s Office lacked authority to investigate delaHoussaye’s firm because his contract was with Livingston Parish, not a state agency. Ricks also said the IG lacked the legal authority to obtain a search warrant and its subpoenas were issued without the required written reasons from a judge — meaning, the IG illegally obtained its evidence against delaHoussaye.
But a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit ruled Thursday that Ricks should have been looking instead at whether the evidence was “unconstitutionally obtained.”
The appeals panel vacated Ricks’ order and ordered the judge to hold another hearing on whether the evidence should be suppressed.
DelaHoussaye faces 59 counts of falsifying public records and theft for allegedly overbilling Livingston Parish for wetlands mitigation and burn site closure work after the 2008 storm.
Prosecutors claim delaHoussaye invoiced the parish for working hours he actually spent playing golf, going to the gym and getting cosmetic treatments at a Baton Rouge clinic. They said the case was based on about $25,000 worth of overbilling out of the more than $2.2 million in invoices delaHoussaye’s firm, C-Del Inc., submitted to the parish.
The parish paid delaHoussaye $325,000 in April to settle a pair of lawsuits he had filed over payment of his final invoice of $379,000.
DelaHoussaye, who filed for bankruptcy July 14, has said the charges against him are political retribution for his reporting alleged illegal activity by some of the parish’s other storm debris removal contractors.
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