Boucher pleads guilty to federal charge in Paul attack

Rene Boucher (left) leaves U.S. District Court with attorney Matt Baker (right) Friday, March 9, 2018, after Boucher pleaded guilty March 9 to a federal charge of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in personal injury.

Dr. Rene Boucher, who admitted guilt to a federal crime in a case involving the tackling of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul outside the lawmaker’s home, has formally requested to be placed on probation.

Attorney Matt Baker, representing Boucher, filed a 10-page memorandum Friday in U.S. District Court arguing that incarceration for the retired physician would serve no useful purpose.

Boucher, 60, pleaded guilty in March to a count of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in personal injury.

His sentencing, before Special Judge Marianne Battani, is set for June 15.

Special Prosecutor Bradley Shepard has recommended a 21-month prison sentence for Boucher, but Baker argues probation is more appropriate “based upon the rather unique nature of the offense” and several extenuating circumstances.

“Other than the isolated incident that is in issue, Dr. Boucher has been a pillar of his community, a solid citizen, a family man and a devout Christian,” Baker stated in his memorandum, which also stressed Boucher’s lack of a criminal history and his service in the U.S. Army and in the community as a physician.

A neck injury sustained in a bicycle accident forced Boucher, a specialist in pain management and anesthesiology, to retire from practicing medicine, according to court records.

Accompanying the sentencing memorandum are 14 letters supporting Boucher and extolling his character.

Baker’s filing offers context into what led to the Nov. 3 incident in the Rivergreen subdivision, where Paul and Boucher are neighbors.

On that date, Paul was tackled outside his residence while doing yardwork.

Boucher told law enforcement that he ran onto the senator’s property and tackled Paul after he witnessed Paul stack brush on top of a pile near Boucher’s property.

Baker’s filing makes the case that the roots of the tackling incident could be traced to summer 2017, when Boucher trimmed the limbs on a few maple trees on the property line dividing the Boucher and Paul properties.

Prior to the trimming, the branches were low to the ground and extended a “substantial distance across Boucher’s property.”

In September 2017, Paul piled limbs and remnants from freshly-trimmed shrubs onto a spot on Paul’s property but just off the property line with Boucher. This pile measured about five feet high and 10 feet long, according to Baker’s filing.

On Oct. 10, Boucher gathered up the pile of debris, placed it into portable dumpsters and had it hauled away.

“Even though this debris was not on Dr. Boucher’s property, he viewed it as unsightly – as it was placed directly in his line of sight from his patio and the back door of his house,” the memorandum states.

The brush pile was reconstructed on Oct. 13 or 14, and Boucher had the debris removed a few days later, only for a new pile to be made in the same spot on Oct. 20 or 21.

“Dr. Boucher had discussed this situation with at least two members of the Rivergreen Homeowner’s Association throughout this relevant time frame,” Baker said in his filing.

On Nov. 2, a day before the tackle, Boucher used gasoline to burn a pile of yard debris that had been constructed just off the property line with Paul.

A fireball created from the burn caused Boucher to sustain second-degree burns on both of his arms as well as the left side of his neck and face, for which Boucher began seeking medical treatment Nov. 7.

On Nov. 3, Paul used his lawnmower to blow leaves from his property onto Boucher’s yard, according to Baker.

“During this process, Rand Paul stepped away from his lawnmower, gathered several branches from an adjacent pile of trash and placed them in the exact location where the last pile had been burned just one day prior,” Baker said in the filing. “As Dr. Boucher has stated throughout, he lost his temper and tackled Rand Paul as Paul was carrying branches from another location on his property and placing them on the property line. Immediately after the incident, Paul referred to Boucher as ‘crazy.’ Boucher told Paul that he wanted this to stop. Paul replied that the police would be visiting Boucher.”

Baker maintained that Boucher cooperated with law enforcement at all points of the investigation.

The memorandum filed Friday quotes what Baker said is a victim impact statement from Paul filed May 21 in which the senator says he “can only assume that (Boucher’s) deep-seated anger towards me co-mingles with his hatred of my political policies” and states that Boucher must be suffering from a “personality disorder, substance abuse, intense political hatred or all of the above.”

Baker called those allegations “completely unfounded.”

“Dr. Boucher has adamantly denied any such political motivations throughout, as even the suggestion of them is completely unfounded and simply not true,” Baker said.

In an emailed statement to the Daily News on Tuesday, Paul's communications director, Kelsey Cooper, took issue with some of Baker's characterizations of the neighbors' relationship.

"Before Senator Paul was violently attacked from behind, he had no conversations or discussions with the attacker," Cooper wrote. "There was no 'longstanding dispute.' This description is untrue. It is impossible to have a dispute when no words of disagreement were ever spoken – neither immediately nor at any other time before the attack occurred. In the decade prior to the attack, Senator Paul had no contact with the attacker.

"The attack was a pre-meditated assault that broke six of the Senator’s ribs and was complicated by fluid and blood around the lung and recurrent pneumonia. Any description of this attack that implies a 'yard dispute' justifies such violence and misses the point."

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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