Organizers hope that a petition circulating throughout Louisiana’s Iberia Parish will result in the recall of Sheriff Louis Ackal. According to Donald Broussard, the activist who started the petition, a “dark cloud is being cast over Iberia Parish” due to corruption attributed to Ackal and his staff. The petition needs signatures from just over 33% of the parish’s registered voters, and Broussard said he hopes to register new voters and exceed that threshold.
Sheriff Ackal drew immediate scrutiny when he, jail colonel Gerald Savoy and former captain Mark Frederick were indicted in March 2016 for their roles in the jailhouse beatings of five pretrial detainees in the chapel of the Iberia Parish Jail in 2011. The scandal grew after Ackal and Savoy were charged in a superseding indictment for another violent episode in 2014 where the pair allegedly assaulted two prisoners, orally raping one with a baton. In addition to the indictments, at least nine former guards have pleaded guilty to similar assaults, and eight prisoner deaths have occurred at the Iberia Parish Jail on Ackal’s watch.
The sheriff’s response to his legal troubles landed him in more hot water in July 2016, when secret recordings were released in which he reportedly made anti-Semitic and threatening remarks in reference to federal prosecutor Mark Blumberg. According to Louisiana newspaper The Advocate, an angry Ackal was recorded calling the prosecutor a “sorry son-of-a-bitch Jew bastard” and saying that rather than cooperate or make a deal he would “fucking shoot [him] right between [his] goddamned Jewish eyes.” Although Ackal’s attorney, John McLindon, defended his client’s words as attributable to a “fit of rage” and “not credible,” on July 29, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna upheld the revocation of Ackal’s firearm privileges and ordered him to report for pretrial supervision.
In early August 2016, Ackal’s troubles deepened even further when FBI agents served warrants to obtain video surveillance of the Iberia Parish Courthouse and its parking lot. According to KLFY News, the warrants were obtained after the sheriff was accused of having staff members attempt to place a tracking device on an FBI informant’s vehicle.
Ackal has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and no trial date has been set.
Sources: www.klfy.com, www.theadvocate.com, www.courthousenews.com, www.rawstory.com
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