A Kenner city prosecutor who was the sole owner and operator of a company paid to teach court-ordered counseling classes for domestic violence offenders broke state ethics regulations with the arrangement, ethics officials said in a complaint released Thursday.
Louisiana’s Board of Ethics charged Christopher Weddle with violating a law prohibiting public employees from receiving anything of economic value from entities that have business ties to their government agency.
Weddle couldn’t be reached, and a spokesman for Kenner declined to comment on the case.
According to the Ethics Board, Weddle has been a prosecutor since 2006 with the Kenner City Attorney’s Office, which regulates a Municipal Court program offering people accused of domestic violence the chance to enroll in a counseling program to avoid facing trial.
Diversion Resources — a company founded and run by Weddle — earned $9,000 in fees from those participating in Kenner’s pretrial diversion program for several months beginning in February 2014, the Ethics Board said.
A WWL-TV report in November 2014 noted that Weddle himself was leading classes despite not being a licensed mental health professional, as required by newly implemented state mandates.
The part-time prosecutor’s counseling classes attracted clients because they were held in a building adjacent to Kenner City Hall, which houses the municipal courthouse, WWL-TV reported. The courses also were 10 weeks shorter than those offered elsewhere.
Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni later announced that his administration had suspended Weddle from offering counseling services. He also said the city’s counseling courses would last the full 26 weeks called for by state regulations.
The next step for Weddle, 44, is an Ethics Adjudicatory Board hearing. If found guilty, he could be fined up to $10,000 and given an additional levy amounting to 11/2 times the value of any ill-gotten gains.