LAKE CHARLES -- An attorney who practiced law in Louisiana and was temporarily suspended by the Louisiana Supreme Court may face permanent disbarment.
In February 2014, Francis C. Broussard was placed on interim suspension by the Louisiana Supreme Court for allegedly violating the rules of professional conduct by committing a criminal act. He also was accused of engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
“The charges are based upon his plea of guilty to one count of filing false, fictitious or fraudulent tax claims, in violation of 18 USC §§287 & 2.3,” the court document said. “The hearing committee assigned to the matter concluded that (Broussard) violated the rules as charged and recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for three years.”
After considerable deliberation by the board in July 2016, board members issued an official court document explaining that Broussard’s disciplinary history deserved recounting, as it is "directly reflective of the accusations submitted by the committee," which also led to the board's decision for disbarment.
“On Oct. 23, 1998, (Broussard) was admonished by the board for engaging in an improper business transaction with a client, in violation of rule 1.8(a),” the court document said. “On Sept. 30, 2002, the court suspended the respondent for six months, fully deferred, subject to a one-year period of probation, based upon his engaging in a concurrent conflict of interest with one client and negligently commingling and converting client funds in separate matter.”
Furthermore, the court document explained that on Jan. 8, 2010, the court suspended Broussard for one year and one day, with all but 30 days deferred, subject to a one-year period of probation based upon his alleged neglect of two client matters.
Broussard also was interviewed by agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigations in February 2009 regarding tax returns he submitted for 2005, 2006 and 2008.
“The 2007 false return reflecting a multi-million dollar return was due to him was mailed after Broussard was contacted by agents with IRS Criminal Investigations,” the document said. “Broussard knowingly and intentionally presented false claims to the IRS, which is an agency of the United States.”
The document reported that Broussard testified that he was at an all-time low period at the time of the commission of the crime for which he pled guilty. He testified that he was depressed and anxious as a result of years of physical and emotional domestic abuse, was undergoing a divorce, owed back taxes, was maintaining two households and was very angry at the government.
“(Broussard) testified that he never anticipated receiving any refund from the filing of the fraudulent tax returns,” the document said. “(He) served 18 months in prison, he currently lives in a half-way house, City of Faith, to serve 3.2 months of his sentence, and will serve 2.8 months of house confinement to conclude his sentence.”
The document claimed that, based on all evidence presented, Broussard seemed to act intentionally and violated his duties to the public and the profession. The committee had recommended a three-year suspension instead of disbarment because Broussard was cooperative.
“(He) offered full and free disclosure to the disciplinary board and a cooperative attitude toward proceedings, personal or emotional problems, imposition of other penalties or sanctions, delay in disciplinary proceedings, remorse, and no breach of duty to or damage to clients,” the committee said. “The committee also considered the following aggravating factors: prior disciplinary offenses, dishonest or selfish motive, and substantial experience in the practice of law.”
The board responded to the committee’s suggestions by agreeing with their findings and all factors while they made their suggestion. However, the board rejected the committee’s recommended sanction as "too lenient."
“Rather, the bard recommends that (Broussard) be disbarred,” the court document said. “The board also recommends that (he) be assessed with the costs and expenses of this matter.”