Wilson under Ethics Board probe

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / March 25, 2000

LAPLACE – A St. John the Baptist Parish councilman is under investigation bythe Louisiana Board of Ethics.

At its Feb. 17 meeting in Baton Rouge, the Board of Ethics votedunanimously to investigate allegations that Councilman Ranney Wilson and his company, Belle Pointe Services, forced area fireworks retailers to buy their products only from him.

The board notified Wilson of the investigation in a certified letter dated Feb.

25. However, Wilson, contacted this week, said he didn’t know anything aboutthe investigation.

“That’s news to me,” he said.

The letter, obtained by L’Observateur earlier this month, states, in part, that Wilson “may have violated Section 1116A of the Code of Governmental Ethics (LSA-R.S. 42:1116A) by using the authority of his position as acouncilman to compel or coerce retail fireworks dealers to purchase fireworks wholesale from Mr. Wilson and/or Mr. Wilson’s company.”Wilson has a permit to sell fireworks in St. John Parish and has a fireworksstand on U. S. Highway 51 during holiday periods when fireworks are sold.According to Section 1116A of the Code of Governmental Ethics, “No public servant shall use the authority of his office or position, directly or indirectly, in a manner intended to compel or coerce any person or other public servant to provide himself, any other public servant, or other person with any thing of economic value.”Board of Ethics attorney Kathleen M. Allen said neither she nor anyone on theboard can comment on the case because the investigation has been labeled confidential.

It is not known who filed the complaint against Wilson.

Following the investigation, the board will hold a public hearing on the matter.

Only after that hearing can the board make a finding of a violation of law or impose authorized penalties.

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