Matassa's defense attorney, Lewis Unglesby, called on witnesses to answer questions about where Lawson resided at the time of his qualifying for the election. The law requires a candidate to maintain a permanent residence for one full year prior to entering a race.

The qualifications for Alvin Wayne Lawson to be a candidate in the 2016 Gonzales City Council election was the key focus of a hearing Tuesday morning. The early hearing in the bribery indictment of Parish President Kenny Matassa focused on Lawson's residency and income at the time of qualifying for the race.

Matassa's defense attorney, Lewis Unglesby, called on witnesses to answer questions about where Lawson resided at the time of his qualifying for the election. The law requires a candidate to maintain a permanent residence for one full year prior to entering a race.

Lawson used his mother's address in Gonzales on his application for candidacy, but his mother, Lilian Lawson, testified that Lawson has not lived with her since he was 18-years-old. She indicated that he would stay with her occasionally, though not for an extended period of time.

Lawson's brother, who does live with their mother, echoed that in his own testimony. His brother stated that Wayne Lawson has not stayed in the residence on West Oak Street in the past couple of years. Both Lawson's brother and mother stated they do not know where he lives.

David Simpson, the former maintenance supervisor at Spring Brook Apartments in Baton Rouge, testified that he believed Lawson lived in an apartment complex on George O'Neal Lane with his wife in 2016. Simpson recalled seeing Lawson's vehicle at the complex daily, as well as seeing his boots inside the apartment. In an arrest report from February 2016, five months prior to the election, Lawson put the Baton Rouge address as his residence as well. 

However, testimony from Lawson's wife, Angela Lawson, indicated that he did not live in the apartment with her. She stated because of their on-again-off-again relationship, he did not live with her full time. She went on to say that she does not know where her husband stayed when he was not at her apartment, nor does she know what he did for a living at the time.

Lawson testified that he did not have a lease himself anywhere during that time. Instead, he said he stayed with family and friends, including his mother, sister, daughter, and a friend in Convent. 

Lawson's employment status for the last several years was also called into question, as Lawson did not file a tax return in 2015, claiming he made less than $5,000 a year. Angela Lawson noted in her testimony that her husband has "expensive taste," often wearing nice suits and making large purchases like golf carts. She noted that he was also paying a note on his truck at that time. 

Unglesby questioned how Lawson was paying that note and making such purchases if he claimed no income. In his own testimony, Lawson stated that he works as a culinary chef "on the side," while his regular line of work is as a barber. Unglesby cited paperwork Lawson signed indicating he did not earn income and questioning the accuracy of the documents he filled out.

The defense attorney then went on to question Lawson about a fee he owes to the Louisiana Board of Ethics for campaign violations when he ran for state representative in 1999. Unglesby showed Lawson numerous letters from the board indicating how much he owed, but Lawson stated repeatedly that he had never seen any of the documents delivered to his various residences.

The defense noted that anyone owing money to the ethics board cannot qualify in an election. The Ascension Clerk of Court, Bridget Hanna, testified that her office does not verify the information on applications for candidacy. Rather, they trust that the information on the form is accurate, as applicants for candidacy must sign an oath indicating that it is.

Unglesby made the argument that Lawson was not qualified to be a candidate in the race at the time he was allegedly bribed by Matassa and local businessman Olin Berthelot. The prosecution made the case that it does not matter whether Lawson was qualified, stating that if Matassa and Berthelot simply believed he was a candidate the law was still violated. 

Matassa and Berthelot are charged with unsuccessfully trying to bribe Lawson out of the election. The candidate refused and ended up on the 2016 ballot, losing to incumbent Councilman Neal Bourque.

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