NEW ORLEANS - The sweeping federal investigation of alleged corruption in Jefferson Parish brought former Parish President Aaron Broussard and ex-Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson back to federal court Tuesday.
Both men entered not guilty pleas to six new theft, fraud and conspiracy charges.
“It’s a beautiful day, I feel nothing but the breeze on my face and the wonderment of the day,” said Broussard when questioned about the additional charges that have been brought in the case.
The new charges came in a superseding indictment handed up at the beginning of the month and appear to come from information developed from two other figures who have pleaded guilty in the federal investigation - the former parish chief administrative officer, Tim Whitmer, and Broussard's ex-wife Karen Parker.
“In this case, when Mr. Whitmer comes in and agrees to cooperate and Miss Parker comes in and agrees to cooperate, they add additional facts,” said legal analyst Chick Foret.
The superseding indictment accuses Broussard of giving Wilkinson a $36,000 raise after a relative of Broussard's was admitted to a private school where Wilkinson was a board member.
The charges are in addition to 32 counts of theft and conspiracy in the original indictment that detailed an alleged payroll fraud scheme involving Karen Parker.
The indictment said she was paid as a paralegal supervisor even though she wasn't qualified for the job and was actually assigned to another department.
“I would suggest that the case is still ongoing,” said Foret. “The investigation is still ongoing, and if the government develops new charges or additional evidence, I am sure the government will add additional counts.”
Foret said the government's investigation won't stop unless Broussard and Wilkinson agree to a plea bargain, but he said both men have made it clear they don't think the government has a case.
“Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Broussard have made it very clear that they have done nothing wrong,” said Foret. “They are protecting all of their rights and that they intend to go to trial.”