Prosecutors to seek 21-month sentence for Paul’s neighbor
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Federal prosecutors will seek a 21-month prison sentence for the man accused of tackling U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in the Kentucky lawmaker’s yard, according to a court document that says the man “had enough” when he saw the Republican stacking more brush onto an existing pile.
The court document filed by federal prosecutors underscored that the motive behind the attack stemmed from a dispute about yard maintenance between the two Kentucky neighbors.
In comments to police, neighbor Rene Boucher indicated the attack was not politically motivated, the court document said. Instead, it had to do with a property dispute that boiled over, it said.
Boucher has been charged with assaulting a member of Congress as part of a federal plea agreement that surfaced last Friday.
Boucher has signed the plea agreement but no date has been set for his guilty plea for the attack on the Republican senator, according to Josh J. Minkler, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Paul suffered several broken ribs in the attack and later developed pneumonia. Paul has since said he’s recovering well from the attack.
Minkler has said the charge is one “we take very seriously. Those who choose to commit such an act will be held accountable.”
The audio of Paul’s 911 call to report the attack was released Monday. In it, Paul said he had been assaulted by a neighbor while he was mowing his yard and requested that police come by to investigate. Paul’s breathing seemed a bit labored but he otherwise sounded calm.
While federal prosecutors will recommend a nearly two-year prison sentence, Boucher’s attorney said Monday he will argue that his client should not serve any jail time. Attorney Matt Baker said his client is “a good and a decent person” who made a “big mistake.”
“Everyone needs to remember, first and foremost, that this is a dispute between two neighbors,” Baker said in a phone interview. “It was not and has never been politically motivated. And if this very same incident had occurred between two private persons, neither of whom were a congressman or a senator, we wouldn’t be in federal court.”
Boucher is “very meticulous” about how he maintains his yard, while Paul takes “a much different approach” to the upkeep of his property, Baker said last week.
The federal charge against Boucher carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The plea deal also raises the prospect that Boucher — a retired anesthesiologist in his late 50s — will pay restitution to Paul.
According to the court document, Boucher said he saw Paul stacking more brush onto an existing pile and had “had enough.” Boucher made a “running tackle” of Paul in the lawmaker’s yard, it said.
The document said Paul “did not see the attack coming until the last second, and was unable to brace for the impact.”
Paul, a former presidential candidate, was attacked Nov. 3 while mowing his lawn at his home in Bowling Green. A close friend of Paul’s said the senator had gotten off his riding lawn mower to remove a limb when he was tackled from behind. Paul has said he never saw the attacker because he was facing downhill and wearing ear protection from the noise of his lawn mower.
In a statement given to Kentucky State Police, Boucher admitted running onto Paul’s property and tackling him, the court document said. In a later interview with the FBI, Boucher again confessed to tackling Paul, the document said.
Minkler’s office was assigned the case after a U.S. attorney in Kentucky recused himself. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Louisville office.
Boucher also faces a misdemeanor assault charge in state court in Kentucky. He has pleaded not guilty to that charge.
Adam Beam contributed reporting.