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Archive for June, 2010

Supreme Court Ruling Casts Doubt on Conviction of Enron Exec Skilling and Other Cases

The ruling by the Supreme Court could spell trouble for some federal cases. It will also change the way federal prosecutors charge certain defendants, though  some had started to look at different ways in anticipation of the ruling.

judge and gavelBy Robert Barnes
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Thursday restricted one of federal prosecutors’ favorite tools for pursuing corrupt politicians and self-dealing corporate chiefs, and cast doubt on the conviction of former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling.

It also sent back to a lower court the conviction of newspaper magnate Conrad Black for a decision on whether his conviction should be overturned.

The justices were passing judgment on a federal statute used in the prosecution of both men, and many others. It makes it a crime to deprive the public or one’s employer or shareholders of the “intangible right of honest services.”

Although a favorite of federal prosecutors–it figures in the current trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich– it has been roundly criticized as being so vague as to make it impossible to know what sorts of actions are illegal. Skilling said it should be struck as unconstitutional.

To read full story click here.

Read Supreme Court Ruling

5 Northern Virginia Men Convicted of Terrorism in Pakistan

pakistan-map
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Five  Northern Virginia men who vanished, only to appear in Pakistan, were sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of terrorism charges Thursday by a Pakistani court, the Washington Post reported.

Pakistani authorities introduced evidence including emails, which it said showed the young men planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the Post reported.

The attorneys for the men questioned the verdict and the legitimacy of the emails. The Post reported that the families back home were devastated by the verdicts.

To Read more click here.

Blago’s Attorneys Want FBI Reports on Pres. Obama Interview

The President in Louisiana/white house photo

white house photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to look at the written reports on President Obama’s interviews with the FBI and prosecutors in his case, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The Sun-Times reports that the Blago defense team has filed a motion asking for the reports, claiming court testimony by government witness John Harris contradicts the government’s previous contention that Obama was unaware of any deals involving the Senate seat appointment.

“Testimony elicited by the government from John Harris and wiretaps played in court raise the issue of President Obama’s direct knowledge and communication with emissaries and others regarding the appointment to his senate seat,” lawyers wrote in the filing, according to the Sun-Times.

To read more click here.

Off-Duty FBI Agent’s Rifle and Bullet Proof Vest Stolen From Car in NJ

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It happens from time to time. Nonetheless, it’s never good.

CBS News reports that an off-duty FBI agent had his M-4 rifle and bulletproof vest were stolen from his car in New Jersey Saturday night.

The television station reported that the New Jersey FBI was on the hunt to recover the property.

“It makes our urgency even greater because the weapon is in the hands of a criminal,” FBI agent Bryan L. Travers told CBS. “We are in charge with protecting the public, and we don’t want someone being hurt with our weapon.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

James Lewis Confirmed as U.S. Atty. for Central District of Ill.

illinois-map-with-harvey-illBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

James Lewis got the final nod from the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to become U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, the State Journal- Register reported.

The paper reported that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who recommended Lewis for the post, noted that Lewis had a strong background in the law and had served as an assistant U.S. Attorney since 1983.

“I was honored to recommend his name to President Obama and am confident that he will bring a strong work ethic, independence, and depth of knowledge to the position of U.S. attorney,” Durbin said, according to the paper.

Feds Indict Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on 19 Counts

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It was anticipated for many months, and on Wednesday federal prosecutors indicted imprisoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on 19-criminal counts stemming from his scheme to use the nonprofit Kilpatrick Civic Fund for personal benefit and campaign expenses.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Kilpatrick, who is serving prison time for state probation violation, devised a scheme starting in 1999 to bilk the fund that was used to pay friends and relatives and cash kickbacks for himself. It also covered expenses ranging from countersurveillance and anti-bugging equipment to yoga and golf lessons, golf clubs and summer camp for his children.

In all, his unreported income amounted to $640,000 between between 2003 and 2008, authorities said.

The indictment was another embarrassment for an impoverished city trying to reinvent itself while struggling to provide the basic services for its citizens. Kilpatrick, once a young, promising political figure dubbed the “Hip Hop Mayor”, quickly fell from the top of the political heap after he got caught lying in a whistleblower case involving the police department.

“It is important that public officials not escape prosecution just because they leave office,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in the statement announcing the indictment. “Public officials need to be accountable to deter them and others from cheating our citizens in the future.”

Detroit FBI Chief Andrew Arena said in a statement that the charges are part of a continuing investigation into “the corruption that has long plagued the City of Detroit.

Read Detroit Free Press Story

Abramoff’s Crimes Weren’t Kosher, But the New Gig Is

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

Jack Ambramoff/ msnbc

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is finishing off his prison term in a halfway house in Maryland, has got a new gig: It’s with a kosher pizza joint in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Jewish Times reports that he is working at Tov Pizza with owner Ron Rosenbluth “in almost all areas of the restaurant business, with perhaps a focus on marketing strategies.”

Abramoff ran some restaurants in D.C. including a kosher deli called Stacks, that was ironically or not, in very close proximity to FBI headquarters on Pennyslvania Avenue NW. He went off to prison in 2006 for fraud, conspiracy and corruption charges.

The paper said Abramoff will work at Tov Pizza for at least six months. His release date is Dec. 4.

Despite Protests From Some Heavyweights, Ex-Chief of Kosher Slaughterhouse in Iowa Gets 27 Years

iowa-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the end, the weight of a letter signed by a dozen ex-U.S. Attorneys, a former Solicitor General and six ex-Attorney Generals including Janet Reno, Ramsey Clark and Edwin Meese III, carried little weight in the sentencing Tuesday of Sholom Rubashskin, the former chief executive of an Iowa kosher meat packing plant, who was convicted on 86 counts of federal bank fraud in connection with loans to the company.

U.S. District Judge Linda R. Reade sentenced Rubashkin to 27 years in prison and ordered him to pay $27 million in restitution, according to the Associated Press.

The group of former law enforcement officials had written the judge inApril  to say the harsh sentence recommended by the prosecution was a “potentially severe injustice.” At the time the letter was written, the prosecution had asked for a life sentence, but later lowered that to 25 years.

Ex-Atty Gen. Janet Reno signed letter

Ex-Atty Gen. Janet Reno signed letter

”We cannot fathom how truly sound and sensible sentencing rules could call for a life sentence — or anything close to it — for Mr. Rubashkin, a 51-year-old, first-time, nonviolent offender,” the group of former laws enforcement officials wrote to the judge..

Rubashkin headed up the Agriprocessor kosher plant in Pottsville, Iowa, which was raided in 2008 as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration. Almost 400 illegal immigrants were detained. Last November, he was convicted on the bank fraud charges and the prosecution subsequently dropped the charges related to the illegal immigrants.

To read more click here.

Read Letter to the Judge