Federal judge denies reduced sentence for former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard _lowres

 

A federal judge refused Thursday to reduce the federal prison sentence of former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, saying there’s no basis for cutting him loose early.

The brief, written ruling by U.S. Senior District Judge Hayden Head follows his repeated refusals to vacate Broussard’s federal conviction because of a claim by Broussard’s attorney that the online commenting scandal that swept through former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office in 2012 had tainted the case.

Broussard was sentenced in February 2013 to serve 46 months in prison and repay $280,000 after he pleaded guilty to a pair of corruption charges — conspiracy and theft — from a 27-count indictment.

Now imprisoned in Pensacola, Florida, Broussard, 66, has contended that the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevented his attorney at the time from effectively representing him by keeping the extent of the online commenting scandal hidden from him. Head said the extent of the online comments didn’t affect Broussard’s voluntary guilty plea, and his ruling has withstood challenge.

This time, Broussard was asking the judge to give him credit in part due to his “post-sentencing rehabilitation,” but Head wrote that he lacked legal authority to do so.

Broussard’s attorney, Arthur “Buddy” Lemann, said he wouldn’t challenge the ruling, noting that Broussard’s prison term is winding down and he’s due to be sent to a halfway house as early as March. “Theoretically, he could appeal, but it’s beating a dead horse,” Lemann said.

The sentence stems from a series of corruption allegations that also swept up other parish officials.

Broussard and former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson were charged with conspiring to fraudulently award a lucrative parish job to Karen Parker, Broussard’s ex-wife. Parker had the job title of paralegal supervisor and was paid more than $323,000 over six years, though prosecutors said she wasn’t qualified for the position and wasn’t performing paralegal duties.

Broussard also was charged with accepting bribes to steer parish work to the owner of a telecommunications equipment and services company. The company’s owner, William Mack, allegedly paid Broussard roughly $66,000 during his time in office in exchange for Broussard’s steering about $40,000 in parish work to Mack’s company.

Broussard, Wilkinson, Parker, Mack and former parish Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer all pleaded guilty to crimes related to the federal case.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.