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The neighbor who tackled Sen. Rand Paul is sentenced to 30 days in prison

Rene Boucher claims he lost his temper after the lawmaker kept stacking yard waste near their property line.

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Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

The neighbor who violently attacked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and broke six of the senator’s ribs was sentenced on Friday to 30 days in prison.

Rene Boucher, a 60-year-old retired doctor, pleaded guilty in March to one count of assaulting a member of Congress, resulting in physical injury — a federal crime.

Boucher admitted to the bizarre assault on the Republican senator in November, saying he’d “lost his temper” over an “unsightly” pile of branches and brush that Paul had stacked near their shared property line in a gated community in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The brutal assault left Paul with six broken ribs and a bruised lung, and caused him to go through two bouts of pneumonia.

A judge sentenced Boucher to a year of supervised release after his 30-day prison term, and 100 hours of community service, reports WKU Public Radio. He was also fined $10,000.

Boucher apologized to the court and to Paul at his sentencing. “What I did was wrong and I’m sincerely sorry for what I did,” Boucher said in court Friday, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. “It’s not something I’m proud of, I’m embarrassed, and I hope [Paul] and his family will one day be able to accept my apology, if possible.”

Federal prosecutors had recommended Boucher serve a 21-month prison sentence for his crime. Boucher’s attorneys had requested probation. They had tried to make their case earlier this week in a 10-page memo that said the assault stemmed from a dispute over lawn debris and was not a politically motivated attack.

Paul said in a statement in response to Boucher’s sentencing that “no one deserves to be violently assaulted.”

“A felony conviction is appropriate and hopefully will deter the attacker from further violence,” he said. “The original 21 month sentence requested would have been the appropriate punishment. I commend the FBI and Department of Justice for treating this violent, pre-meditated assault with the seriousness it deserves.”

A violent, bizarre attack on a senator with an even stranger backstory

On November 3, Boucher, Paul’s next door neighbor, ambushed Paul while the senator was mowing his lawn. According to federal prosecutors, Boucher said he’d “had enough” and tackled Paul after seeing him stack brush in a pile near his property.

Rene Boucher.
Warren County Regional Jail via AP

Boucher claims he snapped because of this simmering yard dispute. Paul’s office has dismissed that description, saying “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.”

Boucher claimed that Paul repeatedly stacked limbs, leaves, and shrubbery clippings in a pile just off their shared property line, starting in September 2017. “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,” court documents filed by Boucher’s attorneys this week, said.

Boucher said he removed the pile of yard waste in October, but a few days later, Paul allegedly reconstructed the pile of debris in the same spot. Boucher hauled it to the dump, but a new mound appeared in its place.

On November 2, two days before the assault, Boucher set fire to another pile of debris, sustaining second-degree burns. The next day, Boucher claims that Paul was at it again, and “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.”

Boucher’s attorneys have said their client’s anger had nothing to do with Paul’s politics.

Paul’s office, however, has questioned the characterization of a yard dispute. In a statement earlier this week, Paul’s deputy chief of staff Sergio Gor called the attack “premeditated.”

“Any description of this attack that implies a ‘yard dispute’ justifies such violence and misses the point,” he said.

Update: This post has been updated with a new comment from Sen. Paul.