LOUISVILLE - Rand Paul's neighbor-turned-attacker is headed to federal prison, but some critics aren't happy with the sentence.
Rene Boucher was sentenced to 30 days in jail last week for tackling the Kentucky senator, knocking him off his lawn-mower and breaking his ribs last year.
But is the jail time too short?
Immediately following Boucher's sentence, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, tweeted that he was displeased.
"Can we all agree that it's a screwed up justice system that gives more jail time for growing a weed than for breaking your neighbor's ribs?" Massie tweeted. (According to federal law, possession of any amount of marijuana could be a one-year offense.)
Federal prosecutors sought a 21-month sentence for Boucher, which Paul spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said "would have been the appropriate punishment."
But Boucher could have faced a much larger sentence of 10 years for assaulting a U.S. senator under title 18 of the United States Code.
The sticking point of that 10-year sentence is that the attack must be politically motivated.
Boucher, a registered Democrat, repeatedly denied that it was political throughout the trial.
"I would reiterate that while everyone recognizes he's a congressman, Judge (Marianne) Battani saw that his actions were not based on politics, but rather that it was a lawn dispute," Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, told the Courier Journal.
Scott C. Cox, a criminal defense attorney in Louisville and a former U.S. Assistant Attorney, said he was surprised at the leniency in the sentence but saw how the judge could have come to that conclusion.
"Judges in federal court are required to impose a 'reasonable sentence'," Cox told Courier Journal. "A lot of judges sentence within the guidelines. The majority of attorneys in federal court would have figured it would have been the low-end of the spectrum."
The 21-month sentence sought by federal prosecutors was within the minimum guidelines for an assault of a public official.
"If (the judge) thought it was over a political view it may have been a guideline sentence," Cox said. "But she viewed it as neighborhood dispute. He had some broken ribs ... I think most federal prosecutors would be surprised at leniency shown this gentleman."
Boucher is also facing one year of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, according to Tim Horty of the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Indianapolis. Boucher has been ordered not to make contact with Paul or his family.
Baker said Boucher has already paid the $10,000 fine.
"He just wants to get past this," Baker said. "And he is ready to his required jail-time when ready."
Follow Thomas Novelly on Twitter: @TomNovelly
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