Iberia Parish sheriff kept staffer whose ‘retirement’ supposedly opened spot for controversial hire _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Former Iberia Parish Sheriff candidate David Baudoin in an Oct. 7, 2015 forum has now been hired by the Sheriff's Office after throwing his support to incumbent Louis Ackal.

When Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal hired his third-place opponent ahead of the November runoff election, the sheriff defended his action by saying the defeated candidate, David “Spike” Boudoin, would be replacing an employee set to retire the following month.

But almost seven months after the election, both Boudoin and the man he was supposed to replace in December, Capt. Anthony Green, are still on the payroll.

Employee records provided by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office this week show both men are receiving identical salaries of about $50,600, with Green employed as fleet captain under the special operations section and Boudoin on the payroll in an administrative role as community relations coordinator.

Ackal hired Boudoin for the new position ahead of the Nov. 21 runoff election and at the same time announced that Boudoin had endorsed the incumbent sheriff in his campaign for re-election.

Boudoin had won third place in the primary with 18 percent of the vote.

Roberta Boudreaux, who lost to Ackal in the general election with 44 percent of the vote, has since filed a still-pending ethics complaint against the sheriff, citing a Louisiana statute prohibiting candidates from offering anything of value to an eliminated candidate in exchange for political support.

The law Boudreaux references — R.S. 18:1461.5 — also prohibits an eliminated candidate from accepting anything of value under the same scenario. A conviction under the statute could lead to fines up to $2,000 and a prison sentence up to two years on the first offense.

“There is a blatant disregard for ethics laws in the endorsing and subsequent hiring of Spike (Boudoin). In my opinion, it qualifies as vote-buying and meets the requirements laid out in the (statute),” Boudreaux said Friday.

Along with the state ethics board, Boudreaux submitted the March complaint to 16th Judicial District Attorney Bo Duhe, Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley.

When Ackal announced he created a new job for his defeated opponent, he refused to answer The Advocate’s questions about the man’s responsibilities and salary until the newspaper filed a public records request for the information.

Although the requested documents were not provided until after Ackal had won the election, Green and Ackal’s public information officer at the time, Maj. Ryan Turner, said Boudoin would be replacing Green upon his planned December retirement.

None of the men responded to requests for comment on the matter. Turner has since parted ways with the sheriff, and his position remains unfilled.

Boudoin’s hiring is not the first time Ackal hired a defeated opponent.

Bobby Jackson, who lost the primary election during Ackal’s first campaign for sheriff in 2007, endorsed him and received a position as an intelligence analyst once Ackal took office. Jackson — who again ran a losing campaign for sheriff last year — claims he was denied working space, equipment and clear direction on his responsibilities for about two months before he decided to resign.

Records show Jackson was employed from July to August 2008 and was paid about $21 an hour.

Boudoin’s hiring isn’t the only controversy confronting Ackal. He faces four criminal civil rights charges related to a series of inmate beatings in the jail, including one instance in which he’s accused of conspiring with his employees to arrest and assault a man in an act of revenge on behalf of his relative.

Ackal’s chief of staff, Lt. Col. Gerald Savoy, and a former captain, Mark Frederick, also face criminal charges in the case that’s already netted nine guilty pleas from former deputies who have admitted to the beatings and agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.

In the months since Ackal’s indictment, citizen complaints have increased against his office’s lack of proactive presence and enforcement, according to New Iberia’s mayor and council.

The Sheriff’s Office has provided law enforcement services for the city of New Iberia since 2004, when city officials dissolved the New Iberia Police Department because of budget constraints.

Residents also complain about a lack of traffic enforcement, Mayor Hilda Curry said last week.

Records provided by New Iberia’s city court show the number of traffic citations issued since 2008 have decreased each year since Ackal took office, from about 5,100 in 2008 to about 2,700 in 2015.

Records provided by the Sheriff’s Office also show the number of crimes investigated has been decreasing each year since Ackal’s office, bringing the number down to about 2,100 last year, or about half of what it was in 2008.

New Iberia’s council voted Tuesday to hire former St. Mary Parish Sheriff David Naquin as a liaison between the city and sheriff to ensure the office is providing comprehensive police services for the city.

The council also voted to renew the contract for one year, pending renegotiations to include now-absent accountability measures to ensure the sheriff’s services pass muster.

Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.