Contracts of vendors in scandal scrutinized

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 2009



LAPLACE – St. John Parish officials said Monday the district attorney’s office is reviewing parish contracts involving three companies that may have been part of a bribery scam carried out by former Parish President Bill Hubbard.

St. John Parish spokesman Buddy Boe said District Attorney Tom Daley is looking at four contracts with the three vendors in question. Boe said all work in connection with the general maintenance and consulting contracts has been suspended pending the investigation.

Boe said Daley met with acting Parish President Pat McTopy on Monday, and the two agreed the contracts need to be looked at. He said once the review is complete, Daley will make the next move in deciding how the parish should move forward in continuing business dealings with the contractors.

Monday’s action is a slight change from what McTopy, the former chief administrative officer, said Thursday morning when he took over for Hubbard following Hubbard’s resignation.

McTopy originally said there would be no immediate move to cancel the contracts with the three vendors, identified by sources as Davezac Consulting Engineers, Parson & Sanderson and Pipeworks Plumbing and Demolition. Boe said the review came at the request of some of the councilman during a meeting with McTopy.

Daley said the language in the contracts could determine whether the agreements listed are subject for cancellation. Boe said since the contracts have been in effect, the parish has paid the firms more than $1.2 million for work completed this year and last year.

Boe said the contracts with Pipeworks, for general parish maintenance and ditch digging, and Parson & Sanderson, for general pump repairs, both expire at the end of the year. He said two contracts with Davezac, which involve management of the parish’s $29.5 million bond issue, as well as oversight of the parish’s Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant, were awarded earlier this year at Hubbard’s request.

Daley’s findings and final decision could come as soon as the parish’s next regular council meeting scheduled for Oct. 13 in LaPlace.

In other news resulting from the fallout connected with Hubbard’s resignation, McTopy announced Monday Boe will take over as acting chief administrative officer as McTopy assumes the role of parish president.

Boe, 24, will continue his role as parish spokesman and said McTopy will also continue to act as the parish’s chief financial officer. Boe said all of the appointed directors in the administration will remain in their current positions.

“Our job now is to work aggressively to regain the trust of the people that has most certainly eroded over the past week,” Boe said. “We will continue to move forward day by day.”

Hubbard appointed Boe as public information officer in January 2008. In July 2009, Boe was named communications assistant to the parish president. Boe will serve as St. John Parish’s second-in-command until the next parish president is elected in a special election. A special council meeting has been called for Tuesday to swear in McTopy and set a date for the new election.