NEW ORLEANS -- A legal bombshell Monday in federal court as former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard disclosed he will plead guilty to public corruption charges.
The news came shortly before Broussard's lone remaining co-defendant former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson admitted that he and his former boss are guilty of wrongdoing.
Broussard's attorney Robert Jenkins and prosecutors met behind closed doors and emerged 15 minutes later to announce Broussard's intention to admit to two of the 27 charges against him. The charges include conspiracy to commit bribery and theft from a program receiving federal funds.
"We're going to have a statement tomorrow," said Jenkins after the hearing. "We have some other concerns we have to deal with right now."
Broussard now faces up to 10 years in prison.
Wilkinson pleaded guilty to misprison of a felony by hiding payroll fraud involving Broussard's ex-wife Karen Parker. Parker pleaded guilty to a similar charge in January.
Wilkinson now faces up to three years in prison.
According to the factual basis in support of Wilkinson's plea, Parker had the job title of paralegal supervisor was was paid more than $323,000 over six years.
Wilkinson admitted in court that he hired Parker at Broussard's request and that she was not qualified for the job.
Judge Hayden Head also asked Wilkinson whether Broussard paid him for other off the books services.
Wilkinson answered, "Broussard maxed out my salary for services unrelated to my position as parish attorney." He didn't give specifics.
Broussard also faced other criminal charges stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving the owner of a parish telecommunications company.
"There won't be a trial," said New Orleans criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Tim Meche. "Everybody's pleading guilty, but that doesn't mean that there may not be new cases once Mr. Broussard and Mr. Wilkinson begin cooperating with the government."
Meche said as a cooperating witnesses for the government, Broussard's information could result in new cases, possibly involving parish contractors including the River Birch landfill.
"They are going to sit down with Mr. Broussard and question him extensively about his knowledge of River Birch and other matters and conceivably it could produce additional criminal cases," said Meche. "That's how that system works over there."
Broussard would be the fifth person to plead guilty to charges stemming from the government's sweeping investigation into public corruption in Jefferson Parish during the years Aaron Broussard was parish president. The list includes Broussard's former top aide and Chief administrative officer Tim Whitmer. Whitmer pleaded guilty to one count of misprison of a felony in March.
Wilkinson is now scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 25.
Broussard is due in court for his guilty plea Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Broussard and Wilkinson were expected to go to trial Nov. 5.