Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and two of his employees pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new criminal charges in the federal investigation into inmate beatings at the parish jail.
Ackal and his chief of staff, Gerald Savoy, had already been charged in a series of 2011 beatings inside the jail’s chapel, a location prosecutors say was chosen because there were no surveillance cameras.
A superseding indictment released last week lodges new charges against the two men and former sheriff’s Capt. Mark Frederick, whose name had yet to publicly surface in the investigation.
Ackal appeared in uniform before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna in Lafayette. One of Ackal’s three attorneys, Richard Haik, appeared with the sheriff and entered the not guilty plea on his behalf.
Hanna made a statement in court that Ackal’s attorneys’ associations — as former employees of the U.S. Western District court of Louisiana — will not affect trial proceedings.
“There is no favoritism being shown here,” Hanna said.
Haik, a former federal judge, retired in January from the same court in which Ackal faces prosecution. Former U.S. Attorney Michael Skinner, who also represents Ackal, worked in the district.
Ackal has also hired Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney Lewis Unglesby to lead his defense.
Lafayette attorney Randal McCann and court-appointed attorney Frank Granger entered respective not guilty pleas on behalf of Savoy and Frederick.
The superseding indictment alleges Ackal ordered a March 2014 beating of a man accused of hurting one of the sheriff’s relatives. Prosecutors accuse Ackal of sending former narcotics agents David Hines and Ben Lassalle — who have already entered guilty pleas for their roles in the beatings — to arrest and assault the man in revenge.
Savoy and Frederick are also accused in a September 2011 inmate beating in the jail’s chapel. Former warden Wesley Hayes and his brother, Jesse Hayes, who both worked under Ackal, have already pleaded guilty in that incident.
The nine former deputies, including the Hayes brothers, who pleaded guilty in plea agreements, attested that supervisors instructed them to take the men to the jail chapel to be punished by force and without cameras capturing the beatings.
Sentencing dates for the deputies have not been set.
Ackal faces two counts of conspiracy against rights and two counts of deprivation of rights, Savoy is indicted on two counts of deprivation of rights and one count of conspiracy against rights, and Frederick on one count of deprivation of rights.
Each man faces 10 years in prison on each charge if convicted. The charges each carry penalties of up to $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised probation.
All three were released on their own recognizance with stipulations that they’re not allowed to carry guns.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.