A Louisiana sheriff charged with abusing prison inmates allegedly called a federal prosecutor a “sorry son-of-a-bitch Jew bastard” and talked about shooting him between his “goddamned Jewish eyes.”
According to court papers filed Wednesday, Louis Ackal of Iberia Parish, a county two hours west of New Orleans, made the remarks about Mark Blumberg during secretly recorded conversations, Louisiana’s Advocate newspaper reported.
Blumberg is one of the US Justice Department attorneys prosecuting Ackal for civil rights violations in a wide-ranging investigation of inmate abuse and cover-ups in his office.
Ackal, according to the Advocate, described Blumberg as a “sorry son-of-a-bitch Jew bastard in Washington, saying he is going to send me to a federal pen,” or penitentiary.
Ackal’s defense attorney, John McClindon, said Wednesday he could not comment without first hearing the recording and knowing more about it.
“We would like to know, if such recording is legitimate, who made the recording and who asked this person to make this surreptitious recording,” McClindon said in an email to the Advocate.
According to court papers, the comments were made in a series of recordings by an “unsolicited informant” earlier this year and recently provided to federal authorities.
Prosecutors cited Ackal’s comments in a request to impose several new conditions on the sheriff if he is to stay out of jail before his trial.
Ackal is one of several people facing criminal charges as part of the federal investigation of inmate abuse. Nine deputies have already pleaded guilty. Among the charges against Ackal is that he and two employees took five inmates to the prison chapel, where there are no surveillance cameras, and beat them with a baton.
According to the Forward, Ackal remains a sheriff while awaiting trial, although he is forbidden from possessing a firearm.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Forward that Ackal’s remarks are symptomatic of a national rise in racial, religious and ethnic bigotry.
“This is a pretty remarkable statement, if the sheriff did in fact make it,” Potok said. “I think the trend we’re seeing is an amazing willingness in many quarters to vilify people with language that should have disappeared decades ago.”