Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Former Jefferson Parish President Pleads Guilty

NEW ORLEANS—Aaron F. Broussard, age 63, a resident of Jefferson Parish and former two-term president of Jefferson Parish, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud, and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, as well as an additional count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Anderson, and IRS-Criminal Investigative Division Special Agent in Charge James Lee. Broussard faces up to 15 years’ imprisonment as a result of today’s guilty plea.

Today’s guilty plea is the fifth conviction stemming from the government’s investigation into corruption in Jefferson Parish under the tenure of former Parish President Broussard. Previously, Thomas Wilkinson, the former parish attorney for Jefferson Parish; Timothy Whitmer, the former chief administrative officer for Jefferson Parish; William Mack, the owner of First Communications Company, a parish vendor; and Karen Parker, the ex-wife of Broussard, have all entered guilty pleas to various federal felonies.

Today, Broussard admitted in open court that he conspired with Whitmer, Wilkinson, Parker, and another Jefferson Parish official to steal taxpayer funds when he and others created a sinecure paralegal supervisor position for Broussard’s ex-wife. Documents filed in federal court conclusively establish that Broussard knowingly and illegally diverted taxpayer funds to his ex-wife in the form of her salary for over six years. Further, Broussard admitted that his wife did not even possess the most basic credentials or requisite experience to hold the position of paralegal supervisor. Moreover, Broussard, knowing of the illegal arrangement concerning his ex-wife’s sham employment, repeatedly sought to conceal the illegal nature of his her employment with Jefferson Parish through multiple material misrepresentations on bank documents, federal income tax returns, and on his State of Louisiana Annual Ethics Disclosure Reports. Broussard had his wife transferred to the ID Management Office at the East Bank Regional Library in an effort to hide the fact that she was not working for the Parish Attorney’s Office as a paralegal supervisor and was not performing any work as a paralegal. Broussard also admitted to illegally giving pay raises to Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson.

Broussard admitted that his wife’s salary benefited him financially as well. In total, Broussard and his wife improperly diverted over $323,308 in salary over the period of six years, which was over $129,000 more than the individual who held the position of ID/security system coordinator.

In addition, Broussard admitted to receiving numerous bribes totalling over $60,000 while parish president. Specifically, Broussard sought and accepted bribes and payoffs from William Mack in exchange for Broussard’s assistance and intervention on Mack’s behalf. Broussard, while parish president, intervened for Mack in order to assist Mack in receiving parish contracts for telecommunications services and equipment, and Broussard attempted to conceal the relationship with Mack by creating a sham recusal letter. Previously, Mack plead guilty to paying bribes to Broussard for undertaking official acts to benefit Mack’s company.

Broussard faces a maximum penalty of not more than five years in prison as to count one, and 10 years as to count 27 of the second superseding indictment, followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. In summary, Broussard could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison and fined $500,000. Broussard also faces substantial forfeiture related to his crimes as a result of today’s convictions.

Sentencing is set for February 25, 2013, before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head.

Speaking to today’s conviction, United States Attorney Jim Letten stated, “Today’s conviction of former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard marks the fifth in a series of individuals convicted on federal felony charges arising out of an investigation which revealed the abuse of power in parish government designed to benefit public officials and not the taxpayers. The abuse of power and position by public officials has plagued this region and even the state for many years. Our tolerance of public corruption is zero. We will hold accountable under the law everyone who bears the responsibility of serving to the citizens in our democracy. We will not tolerate the fraud, waste, and abuses which have cost our people so dearly in terms of services, infrastructure, safety, and quality of life.

“My special thanks go out to our team of prosecutors and support staff from the United States Attorney’s Office, as well as the men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission.”

Michael Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation New Orleans Field Office, added, “I commend our public corruption investigative team and the USAO for their tireless efforts in untangling these complex and intertwined schemes of self dealing that betrayed the public’s trust.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge, James Lee, stated, “We are pleased that Aaron Broussard has accepted responsibility and entered a guilty plea for abusing his position as Jefferson Parish president. IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to work with our federal partners to end political corruption in New Orleans.”

The case was investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division and were assisted by the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Klebba, Matt Chester, Daniel Friel, and Mimi Nguyen.

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