The state Board of Ethics recently warned an assistant district attorney working in the Fourth Judicial District that he would need to avoid participating in any official matters involving an addiction and rehabilitation facility he partially owns.
Assistant District Attorney Mark White requested an ethics advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics in an April 2 letter.
In his letter, White claimed he was a 7.5-percent owner of an in-patient addiction and rehabilitation facility.
“Once the doors open for business, my involvement as a fractional owner will (simply) be as an investor, as I will have little involvement in the day to day business activities,” White wrote.
Board of Ethics documents contained more information about White’s request: White was a 50-percent owner of Sterling Strong Recovery Investments LLC, which owned 15 percent of Broken Wings Recovery Center LLC. The Broken Wings Recover Center is expected to open in Morehouse Parish in 2020 as an inpatient and rehabilitation facility.
In his letter, White acknowledged that sometimes prosecutors review treatment documentation of defendants.
“However, my intention to avoid a conflict from arising in this situation is to recuse myself from any case I am allotted, if the alleged defendant has gone, is currently going, or intends to go, to this particular facility, the moment I learn of such,” White wrote.
White asked the Board of Ethics whether there was a conflict of interest he could not waive or avoid.
State law forbids any public servant from participating in a transaction involving the governmental entity from which that person has a substantial economic interest.
The Board of Ethics considered White’s request at its May 17 meeting.
“Although you indicated that you have never directed anyone to seek treatment at a specific addiction rehabilitation facility, should you refer a defendant that you are prosecuting to seek treatment at (Broken Wings Recovery Center), the Board wanted me to caution you that such action may violate (state law) as you would be participating in a transaction involving the District Attorney’s Office and (Broken Wings Recovery Center),” stated the Board of Ethics’ opinion.
Board of Ethics attorney Greg Thibodeaux recommended the board adopt the proposed opinion.