Verm sheriff wins bid at own sale, faces ethics charge

by Walter Pierce

Vermilion Parish Sheriff Mike Couvillon is calling a potential ethics charge against him “negative politics.”

Vermilion Parish Sheriff Mike Couvillon is calling an ethics charge against him “negative politics.” That’s how he characterized a charge levied against him by the Louisiana Board of Ethics over a 2014 Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s foreclosure sale in which Couvillon, through a representative, submitted the winning bid — Couvillon’s was one of only two bids entered for the house; the other was submitted by the mortgage company that initiated foreclosure against the former owner — and purchased a house assessed at $106,000 for a mere $58,000.

KATC investigated the February 2014 purchase in May of last year. The Ethics Board voted to charge Couvillon at its July meeting this year. He faces up to a $10,000 fine.

“It’s an election season; this is about negative politics,” he told the TV station in late July. “I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to tell the whole story and confident that I did everything properly and according to the law.”

Couvillon says he consulted attorneys about the propriety of bidding in his own auction and got the all-clear. According to state ethics law, however, “no public servant, member of his immediate family or legal entity in which he has a controlling interest, shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract or other transaction that is under the supervision of the agency of such public servant.”

The board has designated two attorneys to argue its case before the Ethics Adjudicatory Board should Couvillon continue to fight the charge.

Read the full Ethics charge here.