Rene Boucher, the retired physician who was accused of tackling U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in front of the lawmaker’s home, pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in personal injury.
The Nov. 3 incident between the two men left Kentucky’s junior senator with broken ribs and led to Paul being treated for pneumonia.
Boucher, 59, took legal responsibility in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green, pleading guilty to the felony charge, which was brought against him by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Shepard, acting as special prosecutor.
The case, which has been characterized as a property dispute between neighbors in the Rivergreen subdivision where the two men live, made national headlines in the wake of Boucher’s arrest and provided fodder for late-night talk shows.
“This has been profoundly embarrassing for him, he’s very much looking forward to moving on and this is the next step in achieving that,” Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, said after Friday’s court appearance.
Boucher’s father died sometime after the incident with Paul, Baker said, adding to what has been a difficult few months for Boucher.
“He feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Baker said.
Boucher left the federal court building without speaking to reporters.
Special Judge Marianne Battani set Boucher’s sentencing for June 15.
Federal prosecutors will seek a 21-month prison sentence for Boucher. The charge carries maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Baker said he will argue for Boucher to be placed on probation.
Boucher has agreed to pay restitution to Paul in an amount that will be determined at sentencing.
In a statement made in November to Kentucky State Police, which responded to a 911 call from Paul, Boucher admitted running onto the senator’s property and tackling him as he mowed his lawn while wearing headphones after Boucher witnessed Paul stack brush on top of a pile near the senator’s property.
Paul was mowing his lawn and wearing headphones just before the attack, did not see the attack until the last second and was unable to brace for impact, according to federal court records.
Boucher affirmed during an interview with the FBI in November that the incident was not politically motivated, but that it instead sprang forth from an ongoing property dispute, court records show.
The plea agreement between Boucher and federal prosecutors contains similar language and Baker reiterated Boucher’s characterization of the nature of the dispute after court Friday.
Boucher and Paul have been neighbors in Rivergreen for close to 20 years, though Paul has said that he had very little contact with Boucher for several years leading up to being tackled.
Battani allowed Boucher to remain free on a $25,000 unsecured bond ahead of his sentencing, and ordered him not to have any contact with the senator or his family.
“I stress it because so frequently with these types of cases you see people accidentally coming together and they may not even mean it, and things might happen,” Battani said to Boucher.