Ethics Board charges St. Gabriel chief with violation

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has charged St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau with an ethics code violation, but is asking a Baton Rouge court to put the matter on hold until Ambeau's request for “confidential” records is resolved.

After a private investigation, the board in February charged that Ambeau might have violated a section of the code by operating a private security business in St. Gabriel at the same time he is serving as police chief, and referred the matter to the Ethics Adjudicatory Board for a hearing.

“Every police officer in the state does security,” Ambeau told the POST/SOUTH. He said he has operated his business since at least 1999, before he became police chief.

“I'm waiting to see what the courts are going to do,” he said. “I'm going to be all right.”

Preliminary to hearing the case, the Ethics Adjudicatory Board's Panel B granted an ethics board's motion to compel Ambeau to produce various financial records – and also granted Ambeau's motion requiring the ethics board to turn its records of the entire investigation into the case.

When the adjudicatory panel refused to reconsider its ruling on Ambeau's motion, the ethics board filed suit last week asking the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to block the records request.

“The public interest is not protected if individuals are allowed to discover confidential and privileged records and reports of the board received during the investigation of a potential violation of the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics...” the ethics board's designated trial attorney, Michael Dupree, said in the lawsuit.

Initial complaints of alleged ethics violations, for example, are considered confidential.

The ethics board named both Ambeau and Anne Wise, in her capacity as director of the state Division of Administrative Law, as plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The board is asking the court for a preliminary injunction and then a permanent injunction against the adjudicatory board's order to produce the full record for Ambeau, and for a stay of any further proceedings in the case against Ambeau until the court renders a decision on the records.