Acadiana Business

Ethics Board comes down on Gachassin

by Leslie Turk

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has charged Lafayette developer Greg Gachassin's Cartesian Co. with violating the state's code of ethics while he was a member of the LPTFA and after he resigned from its board of trustees. On June 14 the Louisiana Board of Ethics voted to charge Lafayette developer Greg Gachassin's Cartesian Co. with violating the state's Code of Governmental Ethics while he was a member of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority's board of trustees and again after he resigned from its board. The Ethics Board's action is much like filing a civil lawsuit against Gachassin; within the next four to six months the Ethics Adjudicatory Board, a three-member panel of administrative law judges, will conduct a hearing on the charges, determine whether they should stick and assess a penalty based on the Ethics Board's recommendation.

In much the same fashion as The Independent did in its April 2011 cover story "How Gachassin Games the System," the Ethics Board spells out how the local developer laid the foundation for lucrative work with the LPTFA while he was serving as an appointed board member from November 2003 to November 2009. His alleged violations involved Villa Gardens, a single-family low-income development on Patterson Street, and Cypress Trails, a low-income apartment complex on Sophie Street in north Lafayette. In both cases, Gachassin's Cartesian Co. signed $500,000 consulting contracts with partnerships associated with those projects, which were backed financially and/or initiated by the LPTFA, a public trust organized in 1979 under the laws of the state that holds millions for the benefit of the city of Lafayette. Its primary focus has traditionally been low-income housing; Gachassin has a similar consulting contract with the new Joie de Vivre downtown development, which LPTFA also is now spearheading.

The Ethics Board accuses The Cartesian Co. of violating two sections of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics, one that addresses prohibited contractual agreements between appointed board members and the agency they serve and the other dealing with a two-year restriction for doing business with that agency after the board service ends.

Read The Independent's 2011 cover story on Gachassin's questionable ethics here and check ABuzz later today for more information on this story, including what Gachassin's attorney had to say about how the local development consultant plans to beat the charges.