NEW IBERIA, La. — In the fallout from a scandal at the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Iberia Parish prosecutors have tossed out more than 100 pending criminal cases involving affected deputies.
And that some defendants who had been convicted have won new trials or dismissals after raising the issue of the deputies’ reliability, according court records reviewed by The Advocate (http://bit.ly/2cTSKDt ).
Sheriff Louis Ackal is fighting federal charges in the beatings of inmates and suspects that prosecutors say he encouraged or ignored. However, nine deputies have pleaded guilty to allegations of abuse. They also have admitted in some cases to falsifying paperwork and lying in court depositions.
The acknowledgement of the falsehoods as part of their guilty pleas has called into question hundreds of cases they investigated, mostly drug cases.
Among the people affected is Kenrard D. Broussard. He was four years into an 18-year prison sentence on cocaine charges when two of the narcotics officers who arrested him pleaded guilty earlier this year in the broad federal probe.
Now Broussard is back home, his case dismissed.
“I think these officers’ arrests show that no one is above the law and no one is above breaking the law,” said defense attorney Harry Daniels III, who handled Broussard’s case and several others where testimony by the now-convicted deputies was key.
The district attorney’s office sent letters to all defense attorneys who worked those cases to alert them to the federal investigation, should the attorneys want to use that new information to challenge a conviction or pending charge, 16th Judicial District Attorney Bofill Duhé said.
“You would rather be over-reactive than under-reactive, because a lot of times you might be dealing with a person’s freedom. … If these officers were involved in a case in any way, shape or form, we sent a letter,” Duhe said.
Duhé said his office began working earlier this year to identify every case involving the deputies who pleaded guilty, going back to when Ackal took office in 2008.
Most of the more than 100 dismissals were done without any request from defendants or their attorneys, Duhé said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com