By Bob Anderson
Florida Parishes bureau
June 28, 2012
LIVINGSTON — The parish is investigating another $1.9 million in invoices filed by a contractor in the aftermath of the Hurricane Gustav cleanup, Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said Tuesday.
Ricks said he wants to determine if the parish was properly billed by the C-Del Inc. owner Corey Delahoussaye or if it should try to recoup some of the funds.
The parish president said he wants to resolve questions about billing of the parish by Delahoussaye for hours when there are indications he may have been playing golf, working out at a health club or attending swimming meets.
Ricks said the parish’s attorney also has asked Delahoussaye to produce certain “documents and work products to show he actually did the work” for which he billed the parish.
The parish president also reiterated he will not pay a $373,000 check to C-Del Inc., as directed by the Parish Council, until an investigation of the billing is complete.
He said questions raised by an auditor’s samples of C-Del bills have been sent to the Louisiana Inspector General’s Office.
Greg Phares, chief investigator for the inspector general, said Tuesday that his office has received the letter and will follow up on the matter.
Ricks said Tuesday that if the inspector general finds no wrongdoing, he will issue the check.
Jill Craft, C-Del’s attorney, said it seems the parish is spending taxpayer dollars on investigating her client “over and over” instead of spending the money on beneficial projects.
She said Ricks may be forcing C-Del to take legal action to get paid for the work that has been done.
“I don’t think we have a choice,” she said.
Delahoussaye has shown the Parish Council emails and other evidence that he was working at times when a country club shows him golfing.
At the June 19 council meeting, Delahoussaye said he was not playing golf at the times indicated by the country club, which he said improperly listed the dates on which he played.
Ricks’ latest decision to look at additional invoices involves the same kind of allegations, Craft said.
“Again, it’s the same song, different day,” she said.
Questions about what time Delahoussaye went into the office are irrelevant because a large part of his job was field work, Craft said. While doing that work, her client found things that had not been done by other contractors, the attorney said.
Craft said she believes Delahoussaye is not being paid because he was a “whistleblower,” who discovered Gustav cleanup work that was not being done or was not reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The hurricane occurred in 2008.
“It’s a shame that to get a bill paid in Livingston Parish that you have to be on the right side of politics,” Craft said.
C-Del was hired by the parish in October 2009. The company worked for the parish for about two years before the departing Parish Council members canceled its contract last year.