Broussard enters guilty plea

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 7:26 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 6:12 PM

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

NEW ORLEANS -- Aaron Broussard was arguably one of the most powerful men in Louisiana's most populous parish.

The man with Jefferson Parish president, parish council chairman and Kenner mayor on his political resume is now a convicted felon.

"At 23 years old I came into politics as a dragon slayer," said Broussard as he he arrived at the federal courthouse. "At 63 years old I'm going out as a dragon."

With that, Broussard headed inside to plead guilty to two of the 27 criminal charges he originally faced.

They included conspiracy to commit bribery and theft concerning a program receiving federal funds.

The charges stem from a $323,000 payroll fraud scheme involving Broussard's ex-wife Karen Parker and bribes totaling more than $60,000 from telecommunications business owner William Mack.

"I think this case is about fraud waste and abuse," said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten after the hearing. "It is about the abuse of power and authority by individuals who wield it. It's about using government for personal gain."

Broussard resigned as parish president in early 2010. In addition to his criminal prosecution, in recent months he has also battled prostate and skin cancer.

"For those who have stood by me, my friends and my loved ones, I would ask for your continued support and prayers as I continue this journey," said Broussard leaving the courthouse. "For those who have voted for me in the past in any of the capacities I've served, I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. For those who have not voted for me or are angry at me than sit back and enjoy the show."

Broussard will now remain free on bond awaiting his Feb. 25 sentencing. As part of his plea deal, Broussard will now have to cooperate in any ongoing criminal investigation, including the government's probe into a controversial contract with the River Birch landfill.

"Just to provide unvarnished truth and assistance to us," said Letten. "That's all we can ask and demand of anyone and that's what we expect of him and the other defendants who have plead guilty."

WWL-TV Legal Analyst Chick Foret said the length of Broussard's sentence will depend on the value of the information he shares with the government.

"He can tell the government how things operated in Jefferson Parish before he resigned as parish president," said Foret. "He is a valuable asset to any possible investigations that are ongoing and any future investigations."

Foret also said Broussard figures to be valuable when it come to the River Birch investigation.

"We don't know what Mr. Broussard knows about River Birch. We don't know the extent of his information. But, it seems to me that he can connect some dots for the government, perhaps as to the working of the contract."

Broussard now faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

 

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