A day has elapsed since yesterday’s sentencing hearing for Karen Parker, Tom Wilkinson and Aaron Broussard in Judge Head’s temporary courtroom on Camp Street and the accounting by the media of yesterday’s events is almost complete, “almost” being because I have not chipped in my two cents worth. First up I need to highlight Jason at American Zombie, Editilla at the Ladder and Mark Moseley aka Oyster over at Your Right Hand Thief for the hat tips and support. There are people taking real personal risks telling this story besides me and they deserve the recognition. To those guys I’ll add I have sources whose families have been threatened because word has gotten out they spoke with me. I can honestly say I’ve never been prouder of those of you that have entered the crucible with me despite the personal risk telling this story entails.
Next I need to point everyone to Drew Broach’s second story on the Broussard sentencing because it is good and he can actually spell sophomoric correctly. He hits all the high points save one so I’ll highlight how the media portrayed what I am talking about and hopefully convey a deeper understanding of what went down yesterday so let’s start with this snippet from Drew’s story:
Head said he considered a series of regular payments from Kenner businessman Bill Mack to Broussard as a single bribe for parish business, not several. And he downplayed Broussard’s “leadership role” in the payroll fraud conspiracy that gave the parish president’s then-fiancée, Karen Parker, a public job for which she was not qualified and at which she rarely worked.
As a result, the judge calculated the sentencing guidelines range to be 46 to 57 months.
And a few of the other media accounts:
Broussard faced a maximum of 15 years for the crimes, a sentence likely cut down because of his clean criminal record and his cooperation. Head, a Texas judge appointed to the Broussard case, further reduced the sentence, citing a number of disagreements with recommendations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the federal probation office.
The government recommended sentence enhancements for accepting multiple bribes from Mack. But, Head pointed out, those bribes resulted from a single agreement.
“A bribe paid in a series of installments is one bribe,” he said.
Head also struck down an enhancement based on an assertion that he was the organizer of a bribery conspiracy involving five or more people. The deal, the judge said, was strictly between Broussard and Mack.
Broussard originally faced 58 to 72 months behind bars, but U.S. District Judge Hayden Head reduced the sentencing guidelines and only ended up giving Broussard 46 months. In court, Judge Head, brought in from Texas, disagreed with prosecutors on how some of the charges were counted, thus deciding to change the sentencing guidelines.
Legal expects (sic) expected Broussard to receive a sentence in the five to eight year range. The Texas judge handling Broussard’s sentencing said prosecutors had double counted his bribe payments.
Judge Hayden Head also appeared to downplay the hiring of Broussard ex-wife Karen Parker as a paralegal supervisor even though she lacked the proper credentials to do the work.
He said from the bench: “This was not a sophisticated operation. It must be common procedure to put people on the payroll.”
The apparent light sentence caught many court-watchers by surprise, given the nature of the public corruption charges.
“He gave a lecture to the U.S. Attorneys Office, to the probation department and he calculated the sentencing guidelines differently than the probation office had calculated them and that worked to the benefit of Aaron Broussard,” said Eyewitness News legal analyst Donald “Chick” Foret. “He was not impressed with the payroll portion of the case which dealt with Tom Wilkinson and Karen Parker. It was almost like he was trying to talk Tom Wilkinson out of his guilty plea at times.”
Drew Broach got it the closest while the Gambit oversimplified things to the point of being misleading. I did not expect much from the TeeVee media though Chick Foret’s analysis always seems both informative and amusing.
First we need to dispel the notion that Judge Head gave a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines because that is simply not true. As I previously said in comments Judge Head called the case straight so in my opinion the criticism he is taking in comments to the various news accounts is neither warranted or deserved. Second Slabbed’s legal experts had no preconceived expectations of Broussard’s sentence though I’ll add NOLA Born, a former Federal prosecutor has opined the sentence handed down is in line with the crime and fact pattern as submitted to Judge Head. Continue reading “Public outrage on display Part 1: Some thoughts on the Broussard sentencing.”
But first a word from our sponsor.
What I do not understand is why TheRiot turned to the Parish’s Homeland Security people instead of Human Resources when he sent Anne Marie Vandenweghe home back in February, 2010 while claiming she was a deadhead employee that did nothing but blog on company time?
She obviously was doing something because she had this hard drive with copies of all sorts of documents that she gathered for the federal grand jury investigating the River Birch Landfill and the gang desperately wanted to see what she had given Team Fed. By February Continue reading “Da Banana gets AMV’s personnel file while the gang plotted to figure out what she had given the Federal Grand Jury”
Drew Broach has the skinny on today’s festivities scheduled in Judge Head’s courtroom including new business with the newly flipped former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson. Also on tap are change of venue and Broussard’s earlier motion to have the bulk of his indictment tossed.
That said I want to talk 404 and not the internet variety, rather I’d like to take a second to address rule 404b, Federal Rules of Evidence and those recent motions made under that rule specifying evidence of other crimes involving Aaron Broussard including his use of his property in Nova Scotia Canada at the resort at Trout Point as a conduit for bribery. Saturday, Drew Broach checked in with news Team Broussard had filed their reply to the government’s rule 404b notice, linking the salient Broussard pleading, which came to me via email with the following comment from an attorney not affiliated with the case:
As far as legal brief writing, this pleading is D, maybe D-, work. Poor grammar, syntax and typos abound. It’s also hard to understand the presentation of the case law that is supposed to be supportive of AB’s position.
What I thought was interesting was on page 2 of the brief Team Broussard summarized the “other criminal acts” mentioned in the US Attorney’s motion but spent the rest of the brief trying to debunk the campaign contribution and ethics board investigations without mentioning Broussard’s property in Nova Scotia again until the last paragraph of the brief. Continue reading “Aaron Broussard due in U.S. District court this morning”
And now there is only one defendant left in the Aaron Broussard payroll fraud/bribery scheme and that would be the Goatherder in chief. Gordon Russell has all the skinny for the Times Picayune.
Remembering that I am not a legal expert these motions struck me as a somewhat routine pretrial procedural attack on the Government case but there was something that stuck out to me, actually more what was not said in fact and for this I’m going to quote a small part of the pleading:
First, the indictment alleges that Mr. Broussard, Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Whitmer, the alleged conspirators, hired Karen Parker for the position of Paralegal Supervisor despite her lack of qualifications for the job. It further alleges that the conspirators arranged to transfer Ms. Parker from the Parish Attorney’s Office to ID Management, but allowed her to retain the same position and salary even though she did not perform the essential functions of that position.
I want to make clear it is not the defense lawyers job to make the government case but the argument that is being made in the filings is a tad disingenuous. That said you find names like Broussard, Parker, Whitmer and Wilkinson scattered throughout the 23 page filing. But there is one name that is central to this story that simply does not appear: Continue reading “Team Wilkinson files motions to dismiss the bulk of his indictment”
It is true, Eula Lopez is related to Tom Wilkinson, as Tom is married to Eula’s sister. Ms Lopez is one of 7, one of her other sisters being West Jefferson Medical Center’s Nancy Cassagne. The tea leavea tell me things are heating up.
I believe it was Slabbed that first reported Broussard’s indictment diet as it is clear Aaron, like his late former lawyer/business agent Roy D’Aquila, has a few butterflies on his tummy tum tum. I mention it because Broussard was yammering about it yesterday while making nice with the assembled main stream media as illustrated by the next 2 links.
Ex-Parish President, Attorney Arraigned On New Charges ~ WDSU Tee Vee
Aaron Broussard, Tom Wilkinson plead innocent to 6 new federal fraud charges ~ Paul Rioux @ The Times Picayune
The Louisiana way is hard to leave behind ~ Louisiana Political Columnist John Maginnis
Yes he does folks. Here are some NOLA media links:
Time to hang it all out part deux: Cato get the timestamp, Tim Whitmer is cooperating with Team Fed. ~ Slabbed New Media (1/13/12)
More charges in probe of Jefferson Parish corruption: An editorial ~ The New Orleans Times Picayune
Attorney: Ex-Jeff Parish CAO to plead guilty. ~ WWL TV
Aaron Broussard’s former top aide charged in Jefferson Parish corruption investigation ~ The New Orleans Times Picayune
ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ~ Fox 8