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Former tenant claims wrongful eviction by Gonzales Councilman

receiptDebra Williams lived as tenant in a “shed” owned by Gonzales Councilman Timothy Vessel, Sr. from May 1, 2012 until her eviction on February 4, 2013, barely a month after he assumed office. Two days later Williams filed a complaint with the Gonzales Police Department asserting that she had been living in a “shed” owned by Vessel and paying him $550.00 a month rent, utilities included. Williams also claimed that Vessel had been stealing utilities to serve her “shed” which is located between two residences at 309 and 315 Verna St. owned by Vessel.  According to Williams, power to her “shed” was being pulled from both residences and water from the 309 Verna St. address.  She was receiving her mail at the 309 Verna St. address.

Williams’ accusations were investigated by representatives of the Gonzales Police Department, the Gonzales Fire Department and City of Gonzales building officials on February 7. No criminal violations were found, though Vessel was cited for numerous zoning, building and rental code violations.

It was definitively concluded that the “shed” described by Ms. Williams was indeed being employed as a residence and was being supplied utilities from 309 and 315 Verna St residences. It is impermissible to collect rent on such an unregistered location.

Gonzales City Code states in Ordinance 22.8: “Every building…shall be located on a lot of record and in no case shall there be more than one main building on one lot.”

shedVessel had an occupational license issued by the City of Gonzales allowing him to rent out properties.  Even so, the “shed” occupied by Debra Williams is not a property of record and cannot be rented out legally.  It could not be used as a home, only for storage.

Vessel was given ten days in which to remedy the violations of code provisions, among them, ‘A building or structure shall be supplied by only one service,’ and he did so.

That code compliance has not satisfied Debra Williams. She contends that Vessel evicted her from her “shed” because she invited an employee of the City of Gonzales onto “his property” on February 1 against his wishes.

Williams stated she was trying to sell the city employee Mary Kay products. She claims that Vessel forbade her from talking to city employees, telling her he “did not want them on his property.”

Williams said she attempted to pay her rent by money order that day, but Vessel refused to accept it, insisting only on cash.

She complained to Gonzales Police Department officers the following day because she feared eviction, notice of which arrived on February 4. Having nowhere else to go, Williams vacated only after Vessel “shut off her water.”

Williams attempted to file a wrongful eviction suit against Vessel because “what he did to me is just plain wrong.  I would’ve been on the street if not for friends.” She could not afford the $100.00 filing fee required by the Justice of the Peace.

Her resentment still apparent, Debra Williams guaranteed  that Vessel “won’t get away with what he did” assuring that she would file the suit “once she scraped up the money.”

Councilman Vessel was contacted by The Creole and given the opportunity to respond to Debra Williams’ allegations or comment generally.  Abruptly he blurted out, “I don’t have no dealings with The Creole, buddy” and hung up.

Vessel is currently charged with violating Louisiana Revised Statute 14:67.6, Theft of Utility Services, due to a previous citing. He was issued a misdemeanor summons by the Gonzales Police Department on December 17, 2012. He is alleged to have run an electrical cord from an uninhabited Vesta Trailer Park lot at 2228 S. Burnside Ave., Gonzales, to his residence at 193 Verna St. in late November, 2012, less than a month after his election to the City Council. His May 8, 2013 misdemeanor criminal trial was continued to July 10, 2013 when his motion for continuance was granted by the Ascension Parish Court.


  1. Shannon Boone says:

    Please follow through Ms Williams! I'd be willing to help her "scrape up the money!" I'm sure there are many people in the city that would also be willing to help.

  2. I was always happy to say I served as a Gonzales Councilman for over three terms and never was there is kind of activities from me or any of my fellow councilman. Keep this up and Gonzales will be called The East Bank Port Allen.

  3. Great article!

  4. hope she takes him down.

  5. Dianna Mischler Lavidalie says:

    Wow, a media outlet publishing the "truth and nothing but the truth!" What a refreshing change it is to see a publication demanding accountability from elected officials. I LOVE it!

  6. Wasn’t he against Edenborne allowing Emerson to build there?

    • Reece LeBlanc says:

      Yes, he and Gary Lacombe are part of the Terrence Irvin crew. Basically, they are the two votes Terrence needs to oppose everything on the council, and set up his run for Mayor in the next election. Which would be horrible for the City of Gonzales and Ascension Parish as a whole.

      • Reece LeBlanc says:

        Hence his vote against the budget the other night in which someone had to wake him up to proceed after Gary Lacombe made his brilliant proposal.

  7. Diane says:

    How is it that can you hold a public office (school board, parish, city, state, national) if you have a record? If our elected or appointed political officials can’t keep their collective behinds clean, how can they expect to hold the citizens to a higher standard?

  8. Reece LeBlanc says:

    What an absolute embarrassment. If you voted for this criminal, you are getting exactly what you deserve. Unfortunately, the people who want what is best for this city now have to bear witness to this man’s incompetence. Get him out of office now.

  9. Waynette Sharon says:

    I personally don't know Tim, but I knew his mother.His mom worked at our church for over 25 years in our nursery during church services She was a wonderful woman! His mother was murdered in 1999, when her son-in-law (Shon Miller) shot her and Tim's sistre (Shon's wife) & several others. I'm sure Tim's mother, Mildred, is rolling over in her grave right now because of Tim's escapades!

  10. Kerry Le Blanc says:

    Well here we go again, guess he has a lot in common with other politicians, each one is trying to get lower on their belly than the previous snake, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter which party their in a snake is still a snake.

  11. Great job of investigative reporting. Ashamed we have to deal with the embarrassment of vessel being addressed as a councilman. He knows no honor.

  12. Why is he even a councilman? He sounds just as crooked as any other politician. People like Vessel do not need to be on any council or committee etc.

  13. This is crazy to rent a shed out to a person for $550.00 per month in the first place. What a shame to be so money hungry that you resort to renting out a shed. I am glad she was able to get her money back and start over again. Mrs. Williams has ever reason to fight for what is right.

  14. This guy is just a bad apple, isn't he? He's always committing misdemeanor crimes and getting away with them.

  15. Krysten Bennett says:

    Wow, did he at least give her access to the coke machine for $550! What a shame.