New charges in the ongoing federal criminal investigation of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and his office accuse him of conspiring to arrest and assault a man in an act of revenge.
The superseding indictment announced on Thursday also adds a third defendant and includes additional criminal charges against Ackal’s top lieutenant.
Ackal, who has denied wrongdoing, had already been charged in a series of jail beatings in 2011. The superseding indictment announced Thursday charges him with a fourth count of conspiracy against rights and ties him directly to a March 2014 beating involving a man accused of assaulting one of Ackal’s relatives.
According to the indictment, Ackal conspired with former narcotics agents Ben Lassalle and David Hines — who have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the jail beatings and agreed to cooperate with the investigation — to have the man arrested, assaulted and jailed.
Prosecutors say Ackal met with the two agents, his injured relative and a Sheriff’s Office supervisor not named in the indictment when he gave the directive.
Hines beat the man with a baton, and he and Lassalle both lied about the encounter, saying the man had been injured during a justified used of force, according to the indictment.
Ackal later had the man brought to him at the jail, at one point yelling, “You want to (expletive deleted) with my family?,” while Gerald Savoy — Ackal’s chief of staff who also faces criminal charges in the case — twisted the man’s arm behind his back and threatened to break it, according to the indictment.
Ackal’s lead attorney, Lewis Unglesby, said Ackal maintains he’ll be vindicated through the judicial process.
“This doesn’t add very much at all to the prior information about the case. The sheriff has served the people as a law enforcement officer his whole life and feels confident that this is a genuine misunderstanding and that he will be acquitted once the evidence is tested,” Unglesby said.
The superseding indictment also includes an third civil rights violation against Savoy and one civil rights charge against former Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mark Frederick, whose name had yet to publicly surface in the probe.
Read the superseding indictment below. Or click here.
If convicted, all three men face up to 10 years in prison on each count.
The initial indictment returned by a federal grand jury earlier this year tied Ackal and Savoy to the beatings of five inmates at Iberia Parish jail, on April 29, 2011.
The inmates were allegedly taken one by one for beatings in the jail’s chapel, a location federal prosecutors say was chosen because there were no video surveillance cameras to capture the abuse.
According to the indictment, Ackal directed the beatings — telling deputies to “take care” of certain men — while Savoy and other deputies were present. Some of the men were accused of making improper comments toward deputies, and one of the inmates had allegedly written letters complaining of the jail’s conditions.
The superseding indictment links Savoy to a second incident at the jail in Sept. 2011, when he and Frederick were allegedly involved in an inmate beating.
Nine former deputies have already pleaded guilty in the federal probe of the Sheriff’s Office, most in connection with the April beatings.
Ackal and Savoy have both denied wrongdoing.
Savoy is still employed as chief of staff, according to employee records received this week.