BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A south Louisiana sheriff was taped making anti-Semitic threats that he apparently directed at a federal prosecutor assigned to a civil rights case against him, according to a court filing.
Prosecutors said in Wednesday’s court filing that an “unsolicited informant” recently provided them with a series of recorded conversations between Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and others. A transcript of one conversation includes Ackal recounting a meeting with a prosecutor in which the sheriff claims he threatened to shoot the prosecutor right between his “Jewish eyes” after the prosecutor vowed to send him to prison.
Ackal’s meeting with the prosecutor and other federal authorities occurred before Ackal’s original March 9 indictment on charges over the alleged beatings of five jail inmates, prosecutors said.
“Although the conversation was frank, it was cordial and professional and is mischaracterized by Mr. Ackal in this recording,” prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office wrote.
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Prosecutors say that they believe Ackal made those taped remarks on March 14, but that they didn’t learn of them until after his March 31 arraignment.
Prosecutors argue that Ackal’s remarks are grounds for tightening the conditions of his pre-trial release. A federal magistrate in Lafayette didn’t immediately rule on their request to bar Ackal from possessing any weapons and require him to submit to unannounced inspections of his home, vehicle and office.
“The Government believes that the proposed conditions are reasonable and are the least restrictive to ensure the safety of others,” prosecutors wrote.
Ackal’s attorney, John McLindon, said he hasn’t heard the tapes.
“Before I can comment, I’d like to hear the tapes to see if they’re legitimate,” he said. “I want to find out who did the recording and who sent them in there to do that.”
Ackal didn’t immediately respond to a message left at the sheriff’s office.
Ackal’s trial is scheduled to start Oct. 31. His original indictment claims he directed officers to assault inmates in the parish jail’s chapel, where no video surveillance cameras would record the April 2011 beatings.
Earlier this month, Ackal was indicted on a new charge that he conspired in 2014 to assault a man who was accused of assaulting one of Ackal’s relatives.
Nine former employees of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office already have pleaded guilty to related charges.