On July 9 the Council’s Finance Committee recommended “an additional amount of $260,000.00, for a total contract not to exceed amount of $460,000.00” for Roedel Parson law firm. The Baton Rouge firm’s contract with Ascension includes “ACUD#1, ACUD#2, Parish Utilities of Ascension, West Ascension Drainage, personnel matters and general legal services.” By July 18 President Kenny Matassa’s administration had reduced the amount to “an additional amount of $85,000.00 – total contract not to exceed $285,000.00” which was approved by a near unanimous Council.
Since submitting its first invoice to Ascension Parish in June 2016 Roedel Parsons has pocketed…
Actually it’s more since the parish omitted invoices from June 2019 even though our records request was filed on July 10, 2019.
Roedel Parsons was first employed by the Matassa administration in June 2016 to work on Ascension Environmental, an ill-fated attempt at comprehensive sanitary sewer treatment for East Ascension. By August 2016 the firm had commenced work on negotiations which led to Ascension’s acquisition of Peoples Water Company on the west bank, renamed Parish Utilities of Ascension upon consummation of the $5.9 million purchase. In November the firm worked on the purchase of the sewer treatment plant at St. Jude Subdivision, also on the west bank.
Seven months worth of invoices in 2016 netted Roedel Parsons a relatively meager…$43,693.75. Just over $6,000/month, the firm’s focus was legal work on parish Utilities. The pay rate was reduced in 2017 when Roedel Parsons invoiced $58,387.50. That’s under $5,000/month.
Legal work on Utilities issues seems to pay pretty well for Roedel Parsons. The firm hit the jackpot, though, when Matassa decided to fire his Human Resources Director who had been on the job for only 13 months.
Roedel Parsons’ first invoice in the Taleta Wesley matter was submitted for late August 2018 after Wesley’s termination. It’s difficult to be sure since the parish so heavily redacted the invoices produced in response to that July 10 records request.
Those who hide things are those with something to hide. And who has more to hide than Kenny Matassa and his gang of thieves?
By year’s end Roedel Parsons had invoiced $52.354.50 for work done to defend Wesley’s appeal of her firing to the Parish Council. That’s more than the firm billed in all of 2018 for Utilities work, $41,574.50. The total for 2018…
The amount began to pile up when the parish filed the first of two lawsuits against Wesley on September 17, 2018 seeking a declaration by the court setting the price for Wesley to obtain documents in response to three records request. A second suit, this one seeking an injunction against Wesley prohibiting her from disseminating employment records she had “stolen”, was filed on November 9, 2018 and is ongoing.
Wesley was alleged to have taken federal I-9 Employment Eligibility forms which are required by the Office of Homeland Security. It has long been rumored that Wesley’s predecessor ignored the forms exposing Ascension to hefty fines. According to multiple sources a former HR Director even threatened to drop the dime on Ascension unless she was retained in a different capacity.
The Wesley saga continues with a hearing scheduled in the latter case for June. The court has already ordered the former HR Director to return all documents in her possession but there was a contempt citation issued against Taleta Wesley. All of which made 2019 a banner year for Roedel Parsons.
The firm has invoiced $72,299.25 through May 31 ($14,460/month), all but $9,962.50 attributable to “Personnel Matters.” They are on pace to pocket $173,520 from Ascension in 2019.
It’s not likely to slow down since Roedel Parsons has taken up the case against Berkley Insurance Company to get Kenny Matassa’s criminal legal fees reimbursed. That suit was filed on June 19, but invoices attributable to the case had exceeded $15,000 by May 31. There’s a reason the Roedel Parsons’ June 2019 invoice was not included in Ascension’s response to our records request.
All this from an individual who declared on January 4, 2016: