Attorneys for a former St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of scheming with retired Saints safety Darren Sharper to drug and rape women say they have a right to front-row seats as federal prosecutors and Sharper’s attorneys seek to persuade a federal judge to endorse a nine-year prison term for the former NFL star.
In a legal filing, attorneys for Brandon Licciardi portray Sharper as the government’s “star” witness against the former deputy, who faces five federal charges related to an alleged conspiracy with Sharper to ply women with drugs for rape.
Therefore, the lawyers claim, they have a right to a sealed document that the government and Sharper’s attorneys filed last fall “explaining the appropriateness” of the 108-month sentence that Sharper agreed to accept in exchange for his guilty plea in May to three drug conspiracy counts.
The federal sentence is the linchpin of a “global” plea deal to resolve allegations that Sharper drugged and raped, or tried to rape, nine women in four states.
Sharper would serve little or no prison time beyond his federal term if he abides by the myriad conditions of the four-state deal.
All of the rapes took place while Sharper worked as an NFL Network analyst after his 2010 retirement from the league.
Licciardi’s attorneys also are asking U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to let them attend a status conference this week regarding Sharper.
They claim any discussions about Sharper’s deal, and what he may have told authorities to fulfill its terms, amount to evidence that the government must turn over to Licciardi.
They note that Sharper’s unusual multiple-state agreement requires him to submit to interviews, give sworn statements and testify “whenever and wherever requested,” or risk having the government yank the deal.
“The incentive for Mr. Sharper to ‘sing the government’s tune’ is clear in light of the lengthy prison sentence that Mr. Sharper could face and the government’s unilateral discretion to terminate the Sharper deal,” Licciardi’s attorneys wrote.
“It is clear that the government will rely almost exclusively on Darren Sharper’s testimony in attempting to prove any complicity by Mr. Licciardi in Sharper’s crime spree. The credibility of Darren Sharper will be central to this case,” they wrote.
Some of Sharper’s accusers in New Orleans also have given statements related to Licciardi’s actions, and Licciardi himself has acknowledged showing up at Sharper’s condo on the night that the former All-Pro has since admitted he raped two women there in September 2013. Licciardi has claimed ignorance of those rapes.
Milazzo has yet to set a new sentencing date for Sharper.
According to a law enforcement source, a federal probation report that Milazzo ordered last year concluded that Sharper should serve about double the nine-year term he accepted.
Under the terms of the unusual deal, however, Milazzo cannot adjust the agreed-upon sentence up or down; she can only approve or reject it. In the meantime, she has held Sharper’s guilty pleas in limbo.
Sharper also has pleaded guilty or no contest in state courts in Louisiana, California, Arizona and Nevada. He awaits sentencing in three of those states, including Louisiana, where he pleaded guilty in June to two counts of forcible rape and a count of simple rape.
Sharper admitted to raping two women at his Tchoupitoulas Street condo in September 2013 and a third woman four weeks earlier at the Renaissance Hotel, in an encounter that Licciardi is accused of facilitating.
According to Sharper’s admission in federal court, he and Licciardi “were aware that each was providing controlled substances to unsuspecting women and then having sexual relations with them without their consent.”
In one instance, Sharper claims, Licciardi spiked a model’s cocktail just before the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, brought her to Sharper’s condo and had sex with her there, then turned her over to the retired NFL star. Sharper “attempted to have sex with her but did not,” he admitted in a factual basis underpinning his federal guilty pleas.
Along with federal charges related to the alleged drugging scheme, Licciardi and former steakhouse waiter Erik Nunez both face pending charges in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. Those aggravated rape counts carry mandatory life sentences.
Nunez, 28, also is accused in the federal case of destroying evidence — a cellphone — while Licciardi faces two counts of witness tampering.
Neither Licciardi nor Nunez faces charges in any other state. Both have pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and remain jailed.
Licciardi, a 10-year Sheriff’s Office veteran, quit the force when federal and state indictments against him came down in December 2014.
His attorney, Ralph Capitelli, did not return a call seeking comment.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.