No further penalty for Davezac
Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012
By ROBIN SHANNON
LAPLACE – A Destrehan contractor convicted of bribing former St. John the Baptist Parish President Bill Hubbard in a deal to gain parish contracts received no further punishment from the state Board of Ethics during a hearing late last week.
The board had approved a consent agreement with Ray Davezac that acknowledged his violations of state ethics laws in his actions with Hubbard but declined to issue its own penalty in the matter, according to a release. The board instead relied on Davezac’s federal sentence from 2010 as sufficient punishment.
Board Chairman Frank Simoneaux strongly objected to the decision prior to the board’s approval of the consent agreement, saying Davezac should not have been “let off the hook” without facing additional punishment for breaking state law.
Simoneaux said during the hearing that the matter was handled “too leniently” and that the gravity of the offense, as well as Davezac’s personal gain from the crime, pointed to some type of punishment from the Ethics Board.
Simoneaux, who resides in Baton Rouge, and board member Scott Schneider of Mandeville both voted against the agreement while the other six board members voted in favor of it.
In November 2010 Davezac was sentenced by District Judge Carl Barbier to six months in jail and ordered to pay a $20,000 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery involving a public official. Davezac was also ordered to serve six months in home detention.
According to the consent agreement, authorities said Davezac paid $5,000 to an area automobile dealership as part of a bribe solicited by Hubbard on May 5, 2009. Davezac was one of three contractors who paid about $20,000 in bribes to Hubbard, who used the money to purchase a car for his girlfriend. The consent agreement states Hubbard approached Davezac and asked for the payment.
Davezac had been seeking, and eventually received, a $988,000 contract to manage St. John Parish’s $29.5 million bond program for infrastructure improvements parishwide that was approved by voters in 2009. The St. John Parish Council canceled that contract after the bribery came to light.
Simoneaux said the size of the contract and Davezac’s ability to afford a financial penalty were both factors in his opposition to a consent agreement that did not punish the contractor. Simoneaux said the Board of Ethics should have looked into Davezac’s finances before making an agreement.
Hubbard resigned from office in 2009 and pleaded guilty to soliciting bribes.