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Friday, December 2, 2011

Aaron Broussard's indictment: FAQ

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Here are some quick answers to questions about the Aaron Broussard indictment:

What are the charges?

Broussard, his ex-wife Karen Parker and former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson are charged with 33 counts of conspiracy, payroll fraud and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

What's the factual basis for the charges?

The feds say Broussard, Parker and Wilkinson conspired to boost Parker's salary by declaring her to be working in the parish Law Department as a paralegal when in fact she worked at a library making identification cards. She was not licensed as a paralegal.

How much money are we talking about?

According to the federal indictment, the total amount pilfered is more than $410,000.

Might anyone else be indicted in connection with this?

Yes, but there's no telling when — or if — that will happen ... or who might be implicated. Other politically connected persons who worked in the parish legal department over the years include Paul Connick Sr. (father of Jefferson DA Paul Connick Jr.), sportscaster Kenny Trahan, Jennifer Ansardi (daughter of JP Judge Glenn Ansardi), former parish Councilmember Anne Marie Vandenweghe, former Justice of the Peace Steve Mortillaro, and Constable Tony Thomassie. None of them has been implicated so far, however. What's more, unlike Parker, they all are believed to have actually worked in the Law Department — that is, they showed up and worked there, as opposed to working somewhere else but being paid to work for the Law Department.

Which federal judge will hear the case?

That's not determined yet. Normally the case is allotted quickly, but in this case the federal judges all met "en banc" several hours after the indictment was handed down and they all recused themselves from the case. Chief Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will have to appoint a presiding judge from outside this federal judicial district.

How much prison time do they face if convicted?

A lot. The conspiracy count carries a maximum of five years in prison, wire fraud charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, and theft a maximum of 10 years in prison. There are 33 total counts against each.

What's the political fallout from this indictment?

In many ways, it has already happened. The scandal that started two years ago all but guaranteed John Young's election as parish president, and the council, which used to be closely allied with Broussard (except for Young) has fallen all over itself to adopt "reforms." The parish also has a new Office of Inspector General.

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