Letten: Broussard case about fraud, waste, & abuse
Jay Vise Reporting
The former president of Jefferson Parish is now a convicted felon. 63-year-old Aaron Broussard today entered two guilty pleas in federal corruption probe that snared a number of figures.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten spoke with reporters following the guilty plea by former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard to corruption charges.
"This case, which has now yielded in five convictions...has served as a blueprint for the taxpayers...how the government is supposed to work, how it's not supposed to work, and how government can be abused."
Letten said the convictions in this and other corruption probes send a message of deterrence for others working in the public sector.
"I think this case is about fraud, waste and abuse. It is about the abuse of power and authority by individuals who wield it. IT's about using government for personal gain. And I think most importantly, it's about our zero tolerance for any corruption."
Broussard today pled guilty to two counts of public corruption, after steadfastly vowing to fight the charges.
Broussard's change of heart came after his sole remaining co-defendant worked out a deal with prosecutors in exchange for testimony against him.
Of the original 27 charges against him, the deal struck with U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office saw Broussard plead guilty to two counts: Conspiracy to commit bribery and theft from a program receiving federal funds.
Legal analysts say it means that Broussard will also likely cooperate with the government in other corruption probes.
Broussard resigned as Jefferson Parish President in January of 2010 as a grand jury investigation of his office unfolded.
He faces up to fifteen years in prison on the two counts, but will likely serve much less. Broussard will remain free on bond until his sentencing in February.
Broussard's ex-wife Karen Parker earlier this year pleaded guilty to a single count involving a payroll fraud scheme in which she was paid for a paralegal job for which she admitted she was not qualified. His former top aide Tim Whitmer pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony this year.
The two provided evidence to prosecutors of Broussard's corruption in office, followed by a guilty plea by former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson. After Wilkinson's agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, Broussard and his attorney agreed that the former Parish President would plead to the two counts of corruption.
Broussard is now facing up to 15 years in prison and up to $500,000 dollars in fines with sentencing set for February 25.