Former Parish President and Parish Attorney Indicted for Conspiracy, Theft, and Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 02, 2011|
NEW ORLEANS, LA—AARON P. BROUSSARD, THOMAS G. WILKINSON, and KAREN PARKER a/k/a KAREN PARKER-BROUSSARD, residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, were charged today in a 33-count indictment by a federal grand jury with conspiracy, 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 P. BROUSSARD (“BROUSSARD”), age 62, THOMAS G. WILKINSON (“WILKINSON”), age 53, and KAREN PARKER a/k/a KAREN PARKER-BROUSSARD (“PARKER”), age 46, devised a scheme to defraud the citizens of Jefferson Parish by, among other things, creating and hiring PARKER 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 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 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. Beginning in 2003, according to the indictment, PARKER and BROUSSARD were engaged in a romantic relationship and were later married in mid-2004.
Simultaneous with PARKER’s hiring and employment as a paralegal supervisor, BROUSSARD, the former Parish president, retained WILKINSON as the Jefferson Parish attorney. The 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 percent 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 indictment, these increases in annual salary also increased the retirement benefits for both WILKINSON and PARKER.
BROUSSARD, WILKINSON, and PARKER are charged in all 33 counts of the indictment. As to count one, if convicted of the conspiracy, the defendants each face a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Counts two-28 charge the defendants with wire fraud. As to each of these counts, the maximum penalty the defendants face, if convicted, 20 years’ imprisonment, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Finally, counts 29-33 charge the defendants with theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. As to each of these counts, the maximum penalty the defendants face, if convicted, is 10 years’ imprisonment, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
Speaking on today’s indictment IRS Special Agent in Charge, Jim Lee, stated: “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to make fighting political corruption a top priority in our office. Elected officials must realize that they are not above the law.”
United States Attorney Jim Letten added: “Today’s indictment is yet another clear expression of our zero tolerance for corruption and fraud in our local and parish governments. These governments are called upon to operate on precious and sometimes scarce funding which must benefit the citizens, and not the private interests of a few individuals. Payroll fraud can chip away at the efficiency of those governments and deny our citizens essential services. Today’s charges are the product of a lengthy investigation which continues, and which is designed to protect the rights and quality of life of all of our citizens.”
United States Attorney Letten stated that because the investigation which resulted in this indictment is ongoing and active, no further information beyond this release will presently be made available.
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.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian M. Klebba and Matt Chester of the Financial Crimes Section.