SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT RETURNED AGAINST FORMER PARISH PRESIDENT, AARON F. BROUSSARD, AND PARISH ATTORNEY, THOMAS G. WILKINSON, FOR CONSPIRACY, BRIBERY, THEFT, AND FRAUD
AARON F. BROUSSARD, age 62, and THOMAS G. WILKINSON, age 53, both residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, were charged today in a 27-count superseding indictment by a Federal Grand Jury with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, beginning in late 2003, after being elected President of Jefferson Parish, defendants AARON F. BROUSSARD (“BROUSSARD”) and THOMAS G. WILKINSON (“WILKINSON”), devised a scheme to defraud the citizens of Jefferson Parish by, among other things, creating a position for Karen Parker, wife of BROUSSARD, as a paralegal supervisor at the Jefferson Parish Attorney’s Office under the supervision of WILKINSON, who was retained by BROUSSARD, as the Parish Attorney. According to the superseding indictment, despite the fact that the paralegal supervisor position required paralegal training and certification, Parker, who was not trained or certified as a paralegal, was hired and was paid a salary above and beyond the range authorized for civil service employees. In 2004, according to court documents, Parker was assigned to work for the Jefferson Parish ID Management department, the department responsible for issuing access badges to Jefferson Parish employees. Though the Parish had determined that this position only required the hiring of one employee, Parker was nonetheless assigned to it, despite the fact that another employee already held that position. The superseding indictment further alleges from approximately 2003 through 2010, Parker received substantial increases in pay on an annual basis without actually performing the duties of a paralegal supervisor.
Simultaneous with Parker’s hiring and employment as a paralegal supervisor, BROUSSARD, the former Parish President, retained WILKINSON as the Jefferson Parish Attorney. The superseding indictment alleges that BROUSSARD repeatedly authorized substantial increases in pay for WILKINSON from the years 2003 through 2010 and, in turn, WILKINSON recommended increases in pay for BROUSSARD’s wife, Parker, despite her lack of work. In total, BROUSSARD approved and authorized an 80% increase in WILKINSON’s pay from 2003 through 2010, from a starting salary of approximately $100,000 in 2003 to $184,000 in 2010. In turn, WILKINSON recommended pay increases for BROUSSARD’s wife, Parker, from approximately $48,000 in 2004 to $64,000 in 2010. According to the superseding indictment, these increases in annual salary also increased the retirement benefits for both WILKINSON and Parker.
BROUSSARD and WILKINSON are also charged with wire fraud and one (1) count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. These counts allege that BROUSSARD used approximately $36,000 in taxpayer funds to reward WILKINSON for assisting BROUSSARD’s family member in the competitive admissions process at a local private school where WILKINSON was a board member. Specifically, BROUSSARD instructed then Chief Administrative Officer Tim Whitmer to give WILKINSON the discretionary $36,000 per year raise because BROUSSARD believed that WILKINSON had gotten BROUSSARD’s family member into the local private school. The superseding indictment goes on to allege that WILKINSON knew the only reason why BROUSSARD gave him the raise was because he had assisted BROUSSARD’s family member get into school.
Today’s superseding indictment adds six (6) new counts. The Superseding Indictment charges BROUSSARD and WILKINSON with conspiracy to commit bribery and charges BROUSSARD with five (5) counts of substantive bribery. According to court documents, beginning in 2002, William P. Mack, the President and owner of First Communications Company (“FCC”), a provider of telecommunications equipment and services, began a business relationship with then-Jefferson Parish councilman BROUSSARD. This relationship entailed Mack paying BROUSSARD approximately $1,500 per month in exchange for BROUSSARD’s official acts to steer Jefferson Parish work to Mack and his company, FCC. By 2004, when BROUSSARD was elected Jefferson Parish President, Mack continued to corruptly pay BROUSSARD approximately $1,500 per month in exchange for BROUSSARD’s efforts to steer work to FCC. During the time BROUSSARD was Parish President, Mack paid him approximately $66,000, in exchange for, among other things, Jefferson Parish telecommunications work, collectively worth approximately $40,000.
BROUSSARD and WILKINSON are both charged in count 1 with conspiracy. As to Count 1, BROUSSARD and WILKINSON, if convicted of the conspiracy, each face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Counts 2-6 charge BROUSSARD with bribery. As to each of these counts, the maximum penalty BROUSSARD faces, if convicted, is not more than ten years imprisonment, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Counts 7-23 charge both BROUSSARD and WILKINSON with wire fraud. As to each of these counts, the maximum penalty the defendants face, if convicted, is not more than twenty (20) years imprisonment. Finally, Counts 24-27 charge BROUSSARD and WILKINSON with theft from programs receiving federal funds. As to each of these counts, the maximum penalty the defendants face, if convicted, is not more than ten years imprisonment, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten reiterated that an Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Brian M. Klebba, Matt Chester, and Edward Rivera.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org