Iberia Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff and Two Other Officials Charged with Civil Rights Violations
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana announced today that Iberia Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff Louis Ackal, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Savoy and former Captain Mark Frederick were charged today in a superseding indictment with civil rights violations arising out of the beatings of two men.
The superseding indictment charges Ackal with one count of conspiracy against rights for conspiring in the spring of 2014 to assault a man who had been arrested on battery charges for allegedly assaulting one of Ackal’s relatives. The superseding indictment also charges Savoy and Frederick with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly assaulting another man, a pre-trial detainee at the Iberia Parish Jail (IPJ) in September of 2011. Ackal and Savoy had previously been charged related to beatings of pre-trial detainees at the IPJ on April 29, 2011.
Nine former Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office employees previously entered guilty pleas in related cases before U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi of the Western District of Louisiana. The nine officers are former IPJ Warden Wesley Hayes, former IPJ Assistant Warden Jesse Hayes, former Lieutenant Bret Broussard of the Narcotics Unit, former narcotics agent Wade Bergeron, former narcotics agent Jason Comeaux, former narcotics agent David Hines, former narcotics agent Byron Benjamin Lassalle and former K-9 handlers Robert Burns and Jeremy Hatley.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, Ackal, Savoy and Frederick each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the civil rights violations, as well as a potential $250,000 fine for each count.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Lafayette Resident Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Joseph G. Jarzabek of the Western District of Louisiana and Special Litigation Counsel Mark Blumberg and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.