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

Corey delaHoussaye

Livingston Parish ended its financial wrangling with former parish contractor Corey delaHoussaye on Friday, delivering a pair of checks in the morning to settle two lawsuits he filed related to payment for Hurricane Gustav work.

The $325,000 deal ends the bitter fight between delaHoussaye and the parish government, which has stretched on since 2012. It does not, however, settle allegations that the contractor defrauded the parish, as delaHoussaye still faces criminal charges in state court for allegedly overbilling for work performed by his company, C-Del Inc. He denies any wrongdoing.

Parish President Layton Ricks said he was reluctant to pay delaHoussaye but had no other choice.

“Our attorney has made it absolutely clear that the council does have the authority to settle this particular case as long as the funds are available, which they are, and as long as the district attorney approves the settlement,” Ricks said in a written statement issued late Thursday.

The funds were available because they had been budgeted four years ago, when then-Parish President Mike Grimmer cut a check to delaHoussaye’s firm for more than $379,000 to pay the company’s final invoice for wetlands mitigation and burn site closure work after the 2008 storm.

Ricks stopped payment on that check immediately after taking office in January 2012, a step that delaHoussaye said Friday has made him leery of accepting another check from the parish.

DelaHoussaye said he had not yet deposited the $300,000 check written to his company Friday morning. The money will be used to reimburse funds delaHoussaye loaned his company during the Livingston contract, he said. The parish already had paid C-Del nearly $1.9 million.

The second check the parish cut Friday, for $25,000, went to delaHoussaye’s attorney, Jill Craft, whose bills on the two lawsuits have reached about $75,000 to date, delaHoussaye said.

Both lawsuits will be dismissed, with delaHoussaye agreeing to release the parish government from all claims associated with his company’s contract and payments for the Gustav-related work, parish legal adviser Christopher Moody said Thursday.

The settlement language, which was the subject of some debate between the attorneys for several days, will not affect the criminal case against delaHoussaye, Moody said. District Attorney Scott Perrilloux has said he intends to push forward with the prosecution.

DelaHoussaye’s attorney in the criminal case, John McLindon, has asked a state court judge to quash the charges and to suppress the evidence gathered by the state Office of Inspector General.

McLindon contends the OIG had no authority to investigate delaHoussaye’s billing because his contract was with the Parish Council, rather than an executive branch agency of the state. McLindon also contends the inspector general’s subpoenas and search warrant were defective for various reasons.

Judge Brenda Ricks, no relation to the parish president, of the 21st Judicial District Court, said she will rule on the motions to quash and to suppress sometime next week. She previously ruled there was no probable cause to support the 59 counts of falsifying public records and theft brought against delaHoussaye. The District Attorney’s Office has appealed that ruling.

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