Saturday, June 30, 2007
An English Magistrate rejected the request of the U.S. government to extradite Stanley Tollman to face bank fraud and tax evasion charges that he defrauded investors of over $100 million (opinion available below). The ground for denying the request was that the passage of time since the underlying criminal conduct would make it "unjust and oppressive" to extradite the defendant to face the charges. Among other things, the Magistrate noted that two important witnesses, one Tollman's brother, have died since the case was first indicted, and the underlying transactions took place in the early 1990s so documents may no longer be available. Interestingly, the Magistrate did not find that Tollman was a fugitive even though he left the U.S. while his lawyers were negotiating his surrender with prosecutors (see New York Times story here). The court noted that Tollman, a South African citizen, lived openly in Great Britain after the indictment. Therefore, his argument that the passage of time harmed his defense was not negated by his having been a fugitive.
While the court did not rest its decision specifically on the ground of prosecutorial misconduct, it found that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the case had been less than honest in his dealings with foreign courts and his conduct "reprehensible." In one instance, the Magistrate determined that the prosecutor misled a Canadian court related to having Tollman's brother returned to the United States. The prosecutor was also alleged to have said that he would make Tollman's "life as miserable as possible" and would make his wife, who was also indicted, do a "perp walk" when she returned to New York -- the same Magistrate earlier turned down an extradition request for Mrs. Tollman. The prosecutor submitted an affidavit denying he made the statements, which the Magistrate found "to be untruthful." The English court sent a clear message that there was prosecutorial overreaching, a point that will not aid the Department of Justice if it appeals the decision. (ph)