A Louisiana sheriff charged with federal civil rights violations allegedly called a federal prosecutor in his case a “son-of-a-bitch Jew bastard” and threatened to shoot him “right between [his] goddamned Jewish eyes.”
Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal made the comments, which are believed to reference Justice Department special counsel Mark Blumberg, while being secretly recorded in March, according to a motion filed by prosecutors Wednesday.
Blumberg met with Ackal in May regarding the sheriff’s pending civil rights trial, where prosecutors may have pushed Ackal to provide them with information on others under investigation, according to an excerpt of the comments Ackal allegedly made. However, prosecutors do not agree with Ackal’s alleged characterization of the meeting in the recordings, claiming the meeting involved attorneys for both parties and was “cordial and professional.”
The motion asked for new conditions modifying Ackal’s release from jail pending his trial. New restrictions would include limits on the consumption of alcohol and a restraining order barring contact with alleged victims in the investigation. Currently, Ackal’s only condition is that he not possess a firearm.
Anti-Semitism has always been a part of the South, just as it has been present in many parts of the U.S., said Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center. However, Potok said there has been a rise in all kinds of racial, religious and ethnic bigotry in the country.
“This is a pretty remarkable statement, if the sheriff did in fact make it,” he said. “I think the trend we’re seeing is an amazing willingness in many quarters to vilify people with language that should have disappeared decades ago.”
Ackal was indicted in March by a federal grand jury as part of a probe into inmate abuse and cover-ups within the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. Prosecutors claim Ackal, along with Lt. Col. Gerald Savoy and Capt. Mark Frederick, took five inmates to the jail’s chapel — where there are no cameras — and beat them with a baton. They also claim in the indictment that Ackal, after discovering one of the inmates was imprisoned for a sex offense, posed with his baton as if it were his penis and forcibly violated the inmate’s mouth.
All three men pleaded not guilty to all charges.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch last year requesting a civil rights investigation of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, citing the eight deaths in sheriff’s custody since 2005 as well as the more than $1 million in civil court settlements for complaints including excessive force.
A federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment in June that added another charge of conspiracy against rights after Ackal allegedly assaulted a person suspected of attacking one of Ackal’s relatives during that person’s arrest. The new charges adds to his existing charge of conspiracy and two charges of depriving civil rights.
Although protesters have called for Ackal’s resignation since April, Ackal remains a sheriff while awaiting trial.
Ackal’s attorney John McClindon said neither he nor his client had not been provided with copies of the recording and could not comment, according to The Advocate.
Nine sheriff’s deputies have pleaded guilty in the course of the federal investigation so far.