Sen. Rand Paul, who suffered six broken ribs and damage to his lungs when he was attacked by a neighbor, wanted a 21-month prison sentence. So did the prosecutors working the case.
Instead, the crazed neighbor who tackled Paul from behind got just 30 days in jail.
Rene Boucher, 60 years old and like Paul a physician, claims he simply lost his temper over branches and other yard waste the Kentucky senator had piled up near a property line between the two homes. In March, Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress, which is a felony.
Paul suffered serious injuries in the blindside attack. The broken ribs and lung damage led to several bouts of pneumonia, and Paul missed weeks of work in the Senate.
“No one deserves to be violently assaulted,” Paul said in a statement emailed to the Bowling Green Daily News after the sentencing. “A felony conviction with jail time is appropriate and hopefully will deter the attacker from further violence. I commend the FBI and Department of Justice for treating this violent, premeditated assault with the seriousness it deserves.”
Special Prosecutor Bradley Shepard sought a 21-month prison term, a sentence already at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines. “We believe the original 21-month sentence requested would have been the appropriate punishment,” said Kelsey Cooper, a spokeswoman for Paul’s office.
“When you look at what happened here, it was absolutely deplorable,” Shepard said. “This was not a bar fight, this was not an argument that got out of hand, this was a vicious and unprovoked assault … that’s not what civilized, educated members of society do to one another.”
But Special Judge Marianne Battani sentenced Boucher to just 30 days. He also levied a $10,000 fine and ordered Boucher to perform 100 hours of community service. He even took pity on Boucher.
“I know it’s a heavy burden to be a convicted felon, but I hope you can forgive yourself and go on with your life,” Battani reportedly told him. “I hope the Pauls can forgive you, but ultimately, that you can forgive yourself.”
Battani also said he saw no evidence that the attack was political.
“The court does not believe you did this because of Sen. Paul’s political positions or political work,” Battani said to Boucher. “I see this as strictly a dispute between neighbors … it’s an unfortunate incident that should not have happened. There were other ways to resolve it, and as far as the attack (Paul) was certainly an innocent victim.”
For his part, Boucher apologized for attacking Paul. “What I did was wrong and I’m sincerely sorry for what I did,” he said. “It’s not something I’m proud of, I’m embarrassed and I hope [Paul] and his family will one day be able to accept my apology, if possible.”