A Kentucky man has been charged with assaulting a member of Congress over a November dispute that turned physical with his neighbor, Sen. Rand Paul, officials announced Friday.
Rene Boucher, 58, of Bowling Green has signed a plea agreement to one count of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in personal injury, a felony.
“Assaulting a member of Congress is an offense we take very seriously,” said Josh J. Minkler, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. "Those who choose to commit such an act will be held accountable.”
While Boucher admitted the assault, he denied that it was politically motivated. Instead, the incident stemmed from a dispute over gardening.
Officials said that Boucher had "had enough" and tackled Paul after he witnessed the senator stack brush onto a pile near his property. Paul was wearing headphones at the time.
Paul was left with six broken ribs after the incident and was in "considerable pain," his staffers told BuzzFeed News at the time.
The DOJ also said Paul subsequently contracted pneumonia.
Boucher's lawyer, Matt Baker, said in November that the two men had been neighbors for 17 years and were both once practicing physicians.
"The unfortunate occurrence of Nov. 3 has absolutely nothing to do with either's politics or political agendas," Baker told WKU Public Radio. "It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial."
Boucher faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but he is likely to get a much more lenient sentence by signing the plea agreement. No date has been set for him to enter his guilty plea or for sentencing.
"Those who choose to assault any federal official are certain to face serious consequences," said Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI's Louisville field office, which investigated the incident.
Paul's office and Boucher's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.