An attorney for Corey delaHoussaye asked a state court judge Wednesday to throw out the charges against the former Livingston Parish contractor or — equally fatal to the prosecution — to suppress all evidence obtained through the state Office of Inspector General.
John McLindon, in two motions filed on delaHoussaye’s behalf, said the 59 counts of falsifying public records and theft against his client are based on evidence obtained through an illegal investigation and are too vague to put on a proper defense.
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said late Wednesday that he had not yet had a chance to review the motions.
Prosecutors contend delaHoussaye lied about the hours he worked — and therefore stole money from the parish — under a contract to close burn sites and resolve wetlands mitigation issues stemming from Hurricane Gustav.
Judge Brenda Ricks, of the 21st Judicial District, found no probable cause for the charges after a Feb. 23 preliminary examination hearing. Perrilloux has said he will appeal the ruling and take the case to trial.
McLindon has challenged the authority of the state Office of Inspector General to conduct the investigation into delaHoussaye’s billing on which the entire criminal case is based.
The Inspector General’s Office was created to investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or misconduct within the executive branch of state government.
“The inspector general can investigate contractors of covered agencies,” McLindon argues in his motion to suppress the evidence. “However, it is clear that the Livingston Parish Council is not part of the executive branch of government but is the legislative branch of government for Livingston Parish.”
McLindon said the subpoenas the inspector general obtained for delaHoussaye’s medical and gym records were illegal because the judges simply signed the requests, rather than issuing separate written decisions.
McLindon also contends the Inspector General’s Office has no legal authority to obtain search warrants, like the one used to seize 42 electronic devices from delaHoussaye’s Baton Rouge home in July 2013.
State law designates the inspector general as a law enforcement agency “conferred (with) all investigative powers and privileges” that go along with that designation. But McLindon said the law does not specifically mention search warrants.
“The statute reads that the inspector general can access computer systems, information obtained for the use of law enforcement and any information in the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal and Identification,” McLindon states in his motion.
In a separate motion to quash the charges, McLindon argues that the counts against delaHoussaye for filing false public records do not specify which documents were falsified, the dates they were filed or with whom in parish government. Without those details, McLindon contends, delaHoussaye cannot properly defend himself.
The state’s only witness at the preliminary hearing, state OIG investigator Jessica Webb, said the dates of the records in the charges correspond with days delaHoussaye billed for time he was not actually working on the parish project.
McLindon said that’s not how the statute works. He contends the charges should correspond with the dates those timesheets and invoices were filed with someone in parish government. The dates those records were filed are crucial to the case, McLindon contends, because delaHoussaye would have had to personally deliver falsified records to be guilty under the law.
“Maybe Mr. Delahoussaye was not in town on some of these dates. Maybe Mr. Delahoussaye did not file any of these documents,” McLindon argues in the motion to quash the charges.
McLindon has asked the judge to hear arguments on both motions on delaHoussaye’s next court date, April 20.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.