BATON ROUGE — An attorney who pleaded guilty in 2013 to filing a false tax return with the IRS has been disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In an order handed down Jan. 25, the court retroactively disbarred Francis C. Broussard of West Monroe to Feb. 26, 2014, the date of his interim suspension from the Louisiana bar.
Broussard was indicted in September 2012 on four counts of filing false returns for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, for his failed attempt to receive more than $9.7 million in tax refunds, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
Agents of the IRS interviewed Broussard in February 2009 regarding his returns for 2005, 2006 and 2008. After that initial contact with agents, Broussard went ahead and filed a return for 2007 that sought a multi-million refund.
In April 2013, Broussard pleaded guilty to the fourth count that charged him with filing the false 2007 return. He was later sentenced in federal court in Monroe by U.S. District Judge Robert James to serve a 28-month prison sentence, followed by three years of supervised release.
According to court documents, the sentence James imposed was smaller than that from recommended sentencing guidelines of 51 to 60 months.
"The extreme difference between the attempted and actual loss in this case, the defendant clearly irrational actions in continuing to pursue a fraud of another $3 million when he was under investigation indicate that the guideline range is inappropriate in this case," James wrote in his sentencing order.
At a hearing before the state's Office of Disciplinary Counsel in October 2013, Broussard testified that he was at a low period when he committed the crime for which he pleaded guilty. He also claimed that he was depressed and anxious as a result of years of physical and emotional abuse by his wife. In addition, Broussard was getting a divorce, owed back taxes, was trying to keep two households and "was very angry at the government," according to a summary of the hearing.
According to the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, research conducted at Johns Hopkins University said that lawyers and judges top the list of 105 professions studied in the incidence of major depression.
Further, JLAP states that one-third of lawyers and judges suffer from depression, which is the top cause of suicide.
"Research suggests that those who suffer from intense perfectionism are at higher risk for suicide," the JLAP article said. "They are driven by an intense need to avoid failure."
Jeff Jay, a clinical interventionist and educator in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, wrote in an article called "The Right Way to Help" that Louisiana's JLAP program offers judges and lawyers confidential and specialized support for those suffering from mental-health and addiction issues.
"As addiction and mental-health issues are left unattended, it becomes impossible to keep a lid on problems, and the false hope of maintaining privacy evaporates," he wrote. "Like most problems, these issues are best addressed at the earliest possible stage. Rebuilding a professional and personal life is easier before the worst consequences occur. We also help protect the reputation of the profession at large by taking action."