from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana
REAVLEY, ELROD, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
H. SOUTHWICK, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Broussard pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 242,
which is the offense of depriving another of his rights while
acting under color of law. Broussard, while serving as a
lieutenant in a Louisiana Sheriff's Office, had failed to
intervene while a prisoner in a parish jail was beaten by
other officers. On appeal, Broussard argues that his guilty
plea was invalid and that his sentence was procedurally and
substantively unreasonable. We AFFIRM.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 2011, Byron Lasalle used a baton to beat a handcuffed
and compliant inmate in the chapel of the Iberia Parish Jail
in New Iberia, Louisiana. Broussard outranked Lasalle and the
other deputies in the chapel and knew he had a duty to
intervene. Yet, Broussard stood silent in the chapel as
Lasalle beat, kicked, and punched the inmate, S.S., for about
ten minutes. Among the acts of brutality Broussard silently
witnessed was Lasalle's placing one end of the baton
between his legs and the other end into S.S.'s mouth,
forcing S.S. to mimic fellatio. Once S.S. started choking
from the baton in his mouth, Broussard left. Broussard never
intervened in this violence against the inmate.
past, Broussard's unit brought at least five inmates into
the chapel and beat them in retaliation for misconduct. The
officers purposefully selected the chapel for beating inmates
because there were no cameras there to document the abuse.
This abuse occurred regularly and was primarily perpetrated
by Broussard's unit, the narcotics unit. The officers
were told by superiors to "take care" of inmates,
which Broussard understood to mean taking the inmates to the
chapel and beating them.
February 2016, after a federal investigation into violations
committed by officers at the Iberia Parish Jail, Broussard
pled guilty to a bill of information for depriving the rights
of prisoners under color of law. The bill of information was
authorized by the United States Attorney for the Western
District of Louisiana and by the Principal Deputy Assistant
Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. It was signed
by an Assistant United States Attorney and two attorneys from
the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. In
connection with these offenses, 12 employees of the Iberia
Parish Sherriff's Office were charged with civil rights
abuses. Ten officers pled guilty, including Broussard. In
exchange for his plea, Broussard agreed to cooperate with the
Government as a witness in a case against Sheriff Louis Ackal
for similar federal offenses.
February 2017, Broussard moved to dismiss the case and vacate
his guilty plea, arguing that the district court lacked
jurisdiction to hear the case because the prosecution was not
properly authorized. The district court denied the motion. It
held that the issue was likely waived, and even if not
waived, the prosecution was properly authorized by the United
States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
March 2017, the district court sentenced Broussard.
Broussard's offense level was calculated under the United
States Sentencing Guidelines as 26, and his criminal history
category was I. The district court considered other
sentencing factors, such as that Broussard is married and a
father to four sons, including a special-needs son. The
Government filed a Section 5K1.1 motion, asking the district
court for a downward departure from the 63-78 month
imprisonment range because Broussard had cooperated as a
witness against Sheriff Ackal. At the hearing, the district
court stated that it had considered all of these factors and
sentenced Broussard to serve a term of 54 months'
imprisonment and three years of supervised release.
was sentenced alongside 6 co-defendants who had all pled
guilty: Robert Burns, Jeremy Hatley, Jason Comeaux, David
Hines, Wade Bergeron, and Byron Lasalle. Burns received a
sentence of 6 months' imprisonment for one count of
violating Section 242 by failing to prevent an assault.
Hatley received a sentence of 6 months' imprisonment for
one count of violating Section 242 by failing to prevent an
assault and a consecutive 30 months' imprisonment for one
count of making false statements. Comeaux received a sentence
of 30 months' imprisonment for one count of conspiracy to
obstruct; 40 months' imprisonment for violating Section
242; and 40 months' imprisonment for one count of
conspiracy to injure or oppress with all sentences to run
concurrently. Hines received a sentence of 40 months'
imprisonment for one count of violating Section 242 by
assaulting a prisoner. Bergeron received a sentence of 48
months' imprisonment for one count of violating Section
242 by assaulting a prisoner. Lasalle received a sentence of
54 months' imprisonment each on two counts of violating
Section 242 by assaulting two prisoners, including S.S., and
54 months on one count of conspiracy to injure or oppress
with all sentences to run concurrently. Broussard timely
raises two points of error on appeal. First, he argues that
his guilty plea was void ab initio because the
attorneys pressing charges lacked authority to prosecute.
Second, he argues that his sentence was procedurally and
substantively unreasonable on three grounds: his offense
level was improperly calculated, his sentencing hearing was
improperly conducted, and his sentence was unreasonably
disproportionate to his offense.
Validity of ...