Four plead guilty to brutal robbery, attack of French Quarter tourists

NEW ORLEANS — Four men have pleaded guilty to the brutal attack and robbery of two French Quarter tourists last summer that left one man critically injured with an acute brain injury.

According to a news release from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office, the following men pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of second-degree robbery: Dejuan Paul, 22; Rashaad Piper, 21; Nicholas Pogozelski, 19, and Joshua Simmons, 19.

Two tourists from the Boston area, in town for the annual general assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, were walking in the 200 block of Bienville Street about 9 p.m. in late June 2017 when they were charge and knocked to the ground.

The vicious attack, which left one victim in critical condition with an acute brain injury, was captured on video surveillance footage that soon was broadcast nationwide. Watch the video below.

The victims wrote letters that were read into the court record pleading for leniency for their attackers. Prosecutors took no position on sentencing, as the guilty-as-charged pleas require sentencing at the discretion of the judge. District Judge Camille Buras imposed the following sentences:

  • Dejuan Paul: 15 years in DOC custody, with 7 years suspended and 5 years of active probation
  • Rashaad Piper: 15 years DOC, with 10 years suspended and 5 years of active probation
  • Nicholas Pogozelski: 15 years DOC, with 10 years suspended and 5 years of active probation
  • Joshua Simmons: 3 years DOC

“This crime was shocking in its brutality and extremely damaging to our city’s reputation,” Cannizzaro said. “One victim very nearly lost his life through this reckless act of violence, and there is no way of knowing how many potential visitors reconsidered plans to visit our city because of safety concerns apparent in the French Quarter.

“We communicated extensively with the victims and weighed their concerns. But we also had an obligation to our community to see that this attack was met with real consequences for the offenders. As Judge Buras said when imposing her sentence, we can only hope these defendants show as much concern for their own futures as their victims have expressed on their behalf.”

Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Livanos prosecuted the case.