The district attorney has dropped a quarter of the charges against former Livingston Parish contractor Corey delaHoussaye in advance of a hearing Monday to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, of the 21st Judicial District, said Friday his office dropped 19 of the 73 counts of falsifying public records and three of the eight theft counts against delaHoussaye related to his billing after Hurricane Gustav. DelaHoussaye is accused of billing the parish for hours of wetlands mitigation and burn site closure work when he reportedly was not working.
Perrilloux said the dropped charges are a normal part of whittling a case down to its essence before going to trial, and his office is ready to move forward on the remaining 59 counts against the contractor.
DelaHoussaye said the abandoned charges are more evidence of the political nature of his prosecution. Eight of the records counts tossed aside represent days delaHoussaye was accused of taking his children to swim meets — accusations he said kick-started the investigation into his billing in the first place.
The other abandoned charges correspond with dates delaHoussaye was accused of going to the doctor and working on an unrelated project in another parish, delaHoussaye said.
“I just find it ironic that some of the charges that were dropped are the very ones that started this whole thing and the ones for which their key witness would have to be Delia Taylor, whose husband I ran against,” delaHoussaye said, referring to his 2011 campaign to unseat Assessor Jeff Taylor.
DelaHoussaye contends that Delia Taylor, whose children attended the same swim camp as delaHoussaye’s children in 2010 and 2011, provided the District Attorney’s Office with information about the swim meets in an effort to derail his campaign and keep him from asking questions about the parish’s Gustav debris removal program.
DelaHoussaye has said other family members took his children to the meets while he and his wife worked on the parish contract.
“This is dirty politics 101,” delaHoussaye said.
Delia Taylor denied those accusations Friday, saying she provided information about the swim meets to investigators with the state Inspector General’s Office — at their request and not during the 2011 campaign.
“I was never contacted by Scott Perrilloux to talk about this, nor did I give Scott Perrilloux anything,” Taylor said. “I have spoken to probably half a dozen different people who have called and asked me to give my witness account, and I told them yes, I saw him at all the swim meets, including one where he assisted my husband in doing the grand tally of scores for the day.”
Perrilloux confirmed it was not his office but investigators with the Inspector General’s Office who talked to Taylor about delaHoussaye’s whereabouts during hours he billed the parish.
“We did not make a decision based on a political campaign or what he (delaHoussaye) feels like is a political grudge,” Perrilloux said. “He ought to be happy we gave him the benefit of the doubt on some of these things, instead of beating on his chest right now.”
Perrilloux filed an 81-count bill of information against delaHoussaye in December 2013 after a parish grand jury fell one vote short of indicting him. The vote was 8-2 in favor of indictment, but nine votes were needed for a true bill.
Judge Brenda Ricks denied delaHoussaye’s request in September to have the District Attorney’s Office recused from prosecuting the case. The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal declined to hear an appeal of that decision.
DelaHoussaye’s firm, C-Del Inc., billed the parish $2.3 million for wetlands mitigation and burn site closure work after the 2008 storm, but the Parish Council in August 2011 terminated the contract amid concerns about delaHoussaye’s invoices.
The firm has been paid $1.9 million to date.
DelaHoussaye has sued the parish for retaliation and nonpayment of his final invoice, claiming he was fired because he reported alleged illegal work by the parish’s Gustav debris contractors.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, aided by information delaHoussaye provided, defeated the parish’s claims at arbitration for more than $59 million in cleanup costs.
Editor’s Note: This story was changed Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, to show that 59 charges remain in the case, not 54 as previously published.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.