WASHINGTON – A man accused of attacking Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and breaking at least six of his ribs pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a misdemeanor assault charge that could result in up to a year in prison and a $500 fine.
During his arraignment at a court in Warren County, Kentucky, Rene Boucher appeared with his attorney and signed a not guilty plea, local media reported.
Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican and a presidential candidate in 2016, was attacked by the 59-year-old retired anesthesiologist outside his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, suffering lung contusions in addition to the broken ribs, the senator’s office said in its latest medical update.
Boucher, who faces a fourth-degree assault charge, on Thursday admitted entering his neighbor’s property and tackling him from behind, the Courier-Journal reported.
A day after the Nov. 3 attack, Boucher was released from custody after posting a $7,500 bond.
He has been ordered to stay at least 1,000 feet (around 300 meters) away from the senator and his family unless he is inside his home, which is situated just a few hundred feet from Paul’s.
Boucher could be in much bigger legal hot water, however, if the Kentucky State Police and the FBI discover that the attack was politically motivated and decide to tack on additional state or federal felony charges.
The crime of assaulting a member of Congress “on account of the performance of official duties” is punishable by up to eight years in prison, with the potential sentence climbing to 20 years if a weapon is involved.
Matthew Baker – the attorney for Boucher, a registered Democrat – said the incident stemmed from a trivial dispute and “was unequivocally not about politics.”
He added, however, that the possibility of federal charges was a concern.