A former Lafourche Parish councilman convicted of stealing thousands of dollars in Section 8 housing money will not serve any jail time, a judge ruled last week.
A six-member jury found Michael F. Delatte Sr. guilty on Jan. 17 of one count of felony theft following three days of testimony.
During a hearing, District Judge John LeBlanc gave Delatte one year of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $20,513 in restitution and a $1,000 court fine.
Delatte, 63, was originally indicted on the theft charge June 1, 2017. Also charged in connection to the same investigation was Kemitra Banks, 42, who later pleaded guilty and was given probation, prosecutors said.
According to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, Delatte and Banks claimed fraudulent Section 8 housing vouchers. Banks, who relocated to Lafourche from New Orleans with her four children in 2014, received Section 8 housing assistance obtained through the Lafourche Parish Housing Authority.
Based on Banks’ reported income, the Housing Authority gave her $700 a month to live as a tenant in a mobile home at 2076 La. 307 that was owned by Delatte’s company. DeLatte received the money as her landlord, prosecutors said.
However, Assistant District Attorney Jason Chatagnier contended Delatte and Banks claimed $20,513 from the Housing Authority illegally because she wasn’t actually living in the trailer.
Banks and Delatte were involved in a romantic relationship and lived together in Delatte’s home at 2999 Choctaw Road but still collected monthly $700 payments from the Housing Authority, Chatagnier said.
Although Delatte could have served up to 10 years in prison, LeBlanc said his lack of criminal history didn’t warrant such a sentence.
“I have no evidence of any criminal activity in the life of Michael Delatte,” LeBlanc said. “It’s a considerable amount of money. However, you have paid the entire amount of restitution.”
Chatagnier said prosecutors had two objectives in the case, which were both accomplished.
“The felony conviction and the order to pay restitution in full is a win for the people of our parish,” Chatagnier said. “It not only holds the defendant accountable for his actions, but makes the money available for those who truly need it.”
Delatte’s New Orleans attorney Craig Murdock said the judge’s ruling was fair.
“We’re definitely not appealing,” Murdock said. “The judge gave a very fair sentence. All things considered, we’re pleased. Mr. Delatte and myself viewed this case a lot differently than the jury and DA’s office did. Mr. Delatte would’ve always made restitution. The issue was that he got arrested and they used the threat of a criminal conviction over his head to get what they wanted. Mr. Delatte challenged that, but the jury disagreed with our theory. Mr. Delatte has made restitution and is going to go back to living his life as an exemplary citizen of Lafourche Parish.”
Delatte served three terms as the District 2 councilman, serving northwestern Lafourche Parish. The disrict includes Des Allemands, Bayou Boeuf, Kraemer, Choctaw, Chackbay, Choupic, St. John, Brule Guillot and Raceland. It borders Assumption Parish to the west, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes to the north, St. Charles Parish to the east, La. 309 to the southwest and La. 90 to the southeast.
He was defeated by Luci Sposito in 2015.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 446-7639 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp
Posted on Fri, May 10, 2019
by By Dan Copp Daily Comet Staff Writer