Former JP President Aaron Broussard to be sentenced Monday

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 22 at 7:24 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS - On recent trips to the federal courthouse in downtown New Orleans, Aaron Broussard has remained upbeat, even joking with a tourist about his new found status as a convicted felon.

Monday, Judge Hayden Head will sentence Broussard for his role in payroll fraud and kickback schemes while Jefferson Parish President.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and theft.

Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Chick Foret says it is hard to predict how much time Broussard will get behind bars. He says Broussard could be disappointed by the sentence.

"I don't think he's going to get the 18 months to two-year to three-year sentence that he might anticipate because he has cancer," said Foret. "I think the more likely sentence is somewhere between five and seven years."

A federal prosecutor told Judge Head Broussard "accepted responsibility" for his crimes, and he assisted in the prosecution of his case by timely notifying authorities his intention to plead guilty. Prosecutors said Broussard is entitled to a slight reduction in sentence for conspiracy to commit bribery and theft.

Broussard's former wife Karen Parker and former Jefferson Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson will also be sentenced on Monday.

Both of them pleaded guilty to knowing about a federal crime and not reporting it.

"I would think that Miss Parker may well get probation," said Foret. "I would think that Mr. Wilkinson would get somewhere between six months and 18 months."

Jefferson Parish Council President Elton Lagasse says an internal audit shows Broussard's schemes cost the parish more than $500,000.

"I think there was some trust there that we had with that administration that maybe we shouldn't of had," said Lagasse.

He also says the council has since passed new laws designed to crack down on corruption.

They include an ordinance requiring council approval for employee raises of more than five percent.

Parish officials must now report all sources of income and outside businesses every year.

Internal auditor and inspector general positions were created.

Contractors must also disclose contributions to parish elected officials.

"We're going to be under some severe scrutiny from now on," said Lagasse. "To tell you this will never happen again, I'm not going to say that won't happen, but I will say it's a lot harder to do now because there's a check and balance now that you didn't have before."

Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit Weekly Editor Clancy DuBos says the moral of the Broussard story for voters is to elect good people and make sure they stay good.

"The bottom line is you can have all the rules and laws in the world, if you don't have good people in office they're going to break those rules," said DuBos. "The temptation and perhaps the opportunity to do wrong and enrich yourself is too great for some people."

The Broussard sentencing is expected to begin at 10 Monday morning.

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