Jefferson Parish Council Member Chris Roberts abruptly resigns

Updated: Apr. 29, 2019 at 9:05 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - An unexpected resignation amid an ongoing federal investigation shakes things up in Jefferson Parish. Council Chairman Chris Roberts’ sudden departure comes after almost 2 years of the feds looking into his financial dealings.

Jefferson Parish leaders were caught off guard by the news that one of the parish’s longest serving politicians has decided to step down.

“I was extremely surprised. It is a very abrupt resignation so I was very surprised by the suddenness of it. There was no indication from Chris Roberts to any of the other members of the council that this was coming,” said Jefferson Parish Council Member, Jennifer Van Vrancken.

Roberts, who’s always been considered one of the most accessible members of the council took down his social media accounts Monday and could not be reached by phone. His attorney Eddie Castaing would only say he voluntarily resigned.

“I received a call today from someone associated with his office to let us know that this would be occurring today. I have not actually seen the letter that Mr. Roberts is supposedly submitting,” said Van Vrancken. “At this point because I don’t have an official copy of the letter to know if it detailed what the reason is my appreciation is that it is personal in nature and not related to his office but I don’t know anymore than that.”

A source tells FOX 8, Roberts is involved in plea negotiations involving an investigation into his finances and side businesses. Over the years, he’s had problems with creditors, the IRS, as well as campaign finance issues. Parish President Mike Yenni also says he doesn’t know why Roberts resigned, but says he “knows the decision did not come easy because he values public service as a councilman.”

“At this point, we turn to what has to be our focus which is making sure we have good continuity of government in Jefferson Parish. We have a procedure. It is all established in our ordinances as to what we do and we actually have a very quick time frame within which we have to act to fill that vacancy. So, we will turn our attention now to making sure we find someone who is suitable,” said Van Vrancken.

The Jefferson Parish council has 30 days to fill the vacancy left by Roberts. Each council member will put forth their nomination of someone who they believe is qualified. That person must live in Jefferson Parish. The person who is appointed will just serve as an interim council member. They will not be able to run for the permanent position that the voters will select in the fall.

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