NEW ORLEANS -- In a flowery filing written like the opening monologue from a spaghetti Western, disgraced former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard asked a federal judge to vacate his 46-month prison sentence on constitutional grounds. (See court filing)
Attorney Arthur “Buddy” Lemann argued that Broussard’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated because revelations of prosecutorial misconduct by then-top members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office were not unearthed until after Broussard had pleaded guilty and received his sentence.
“Mr. Broussard’s Lone Ranger was unable to appraise this Court of the true nature and landscape of the Eastern District’s Wild West,” Lemann wrote. “The old sheriff’s posse had removed the sign posts on their way out of town, and the secrets known to the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice and Section N of the local U.S. District Court were harder to come by than a cool drink of water in the Mojave.”
The “Lone Ranger” was Broussard’s former attorney, Robert Jenkins, who attached an affidavit to the filing stating that he provided “ineffective counsel” because key information was withheld by the U.S. Attorney’s Office run by the man Lemann calls the “old sheriff” Jim Letten and his “posse” of online commenters Jan Mann and Sal Perricone. (See affidavit)
Jenkins' willingness to fall on the sword may be a sign of his appeal strategy in the recent conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Jenkins has said that as-yet unreleased information about supposedly additional improper online comments would give Nagin a "nuclear bomb" with which to challenge his 20-count conviction.
Lemann concluded by saying he is ready to give Broussard the proper defense with a “new sheriff in town,” referring to new U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite.
Broussard pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy to give his girlfriend a no-work job so they could reel in hundreds of thousands of dollars, and to theft for the extra pay she collected. Broussard was sentenced in February 2013, less than two months after Letten left office under a cloud related to his top deputies' postings on nola.com, under stories related to several federal cases.
But Lemann's filing and Jenkins' affidavit make no allegations about specific postings related to Broussard. Rather, they suggest that Mann's conduct investigating the online posting scandal is material to whether Broussard would have pleaded guilty.
They both claim that Mann had made Letten aware of her own misconduct in 2012 and Letten had kept it secret from all defense attorneys, although whether Mann really informed Letten of what she had done is actually in dispute.
Broussard began serving his 46-month sentence in May 2013 and is scheduled for release in September 2016. He was recently moved from Georgia to a low-security correctional facility in Tallahassee.