BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's neighbor was sentenced Friday to 30 days in prison for tackling the lawmaker while he was out doing yard work at his Kentucky home.
Paul, who suffered broken ribs, had hoped for a harsher penalty. He said in a statement that the 21 months in prison sought by prosecutors "would have been the appropriate punishment."
Rene Boucher, 60, pleaded guilty in March to assaulting a member of Congress in the Nov. 3 attack. Boucher said he was triggered by Paul repeatedly stacking debris near their property line in Bowling Green and "lost his temper."
U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani, a special judge called in from Michigan, said she surmised the attack to be a "dispute between neighbors" and an "isolated incident," not motivated by politics.
Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, said his client, a retired physician, was irritated by the debris and removed the waste on his own three times.
Battani told Boucher he should have spoken directly to Paul about the problem, but also suggested Paul would have known "by your removal that you did not like those debris being there."
Boucher must serve a year of supervised release after the prison time, stay away from the Paul family and pay a $10,000 fine. They remain next-door neighbors.
Paul said in the statement that "no one deserves to be violently assaulted. A felony conviction is appropriate and hopefully will deter the attacker from further violence." He called the attack a "violent, premeditated assault."
Boucher spoke in court Friday to ask the judge for leniency.
"What I did was wrong," he said. "It's not something I'm proud of. I'm very embarrassed by it. I never thought I'd be in a courthouse in the middle of all this."
He asked for forgiveness from the Paul family but said he would understand if they were not ready to grant it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Shepard called the attack "vicious and unprovoked."
"When you look at what happened here, it was absolutely deplorable," Shepard said in court.
Several records were sealed from public view in the case, including a victim impact statement from Paul.
Boucher's attorney called a Catholic priest to testify on behalf of his client's character, along with Jim Skaggs, a resident of the tony subdivision where Paul and Boucher live.
Skaggs, who developed the subdivision, said he is friendly with Boucher and never had trouble with him.
But "if I had broken ribs, maybe I would feel differently about it," Skaggs said.
Boucher had brought the brush pile issue to Skaggs' attention, but Skaggs said it never rose to the level of a complaint and he never spoke to Paul about it.