Friday, May 27, 2005
In an undercover operation that appears to have lasted more than two years, the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee indicted four present and one former state legislators on criminal charges related to improperly taking money. Some of the news reports on these indictments coming from the undercover operation, called the "Tennessee Waltz," can be found here (AP), here (WBIR-TV), and here (Jurist).
One of the indictments can be found here and the charges in this indictment are for violations of the Hobbs Act (extortion), 18 USC 666 (a statute that allows the federal government to charge criminal conduct when a state receives federal assistance in excess of a specified amount), and 18 USC 1512(b)(3) (obstruction premised on intimidation and threats).
The indictment describes an FBI undercover operation where the FBI set up a company called E Cycle Management Inc. The indictment discusses the alleged payment of money for the passage of a bill in the legislature (bill here) related to this company.
It is fairly common these days for the federal government to proceed against state actors with charges related to alleged corruption. The charges in these cases carry severe penalties, so these will definitely be cases to follow.