4 convicted in brutal 2017 robbery of French Quarter tourists

Left to right: Paul, Simmons, Piper, Pogozelski (Source: OPSO)
Left to right: Paul, Simmons, Piper, Pogozelski (Source: OPSO)
Updated: May. 22, 2018 at 6:38 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office on Tuesday secured the convictions of four men responsible for the brutal robbery of two French Quarter tourists that drew national attention in June 2017.

Pleading guilty as charged to two counts of second-degree robbery were Dejuan Paul, 22; Rashaad Piper, 21; Nicholas Pogozelski, 19; and Joshua Simmons, 19. The guilty pleas were entered before Criminal District Judge Camille Buras.

The two male victims of the robbery were visiting from Boston, attending the annual general assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The men were walking in the 200 block of Bienville Street shortly before 9 p.m. when they were charged and knocked to the ground from behind. The attack, which left one victim in critical condition with an acute brain injury, was captured on video surveillance footage that soon was broadcast nationwide.

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. 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 custody, with 10 years suspended and 5 years of active probation

Nicholas Pogozelski: 15 years DOC custody, with 10 years suspended and 5 years of active probation

Joshua Simmons: 3 years DOC custody

Cannizzaro released the following statement:

"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.

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