Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sentencing in Operation Costly Influence

A DOJ Press Release reports that "[t]wo former members of the City Council of Gadsden, Ala., a former city employee, and one consultant have been sentenced for their participation in a bribery and wire fraud conspiracy that operated from August 2005 through February 2006."  The convictions were part of what had been called Operation Costly Influence. The four sentences ranged from 18 - 50 months.  The press release states that "[t]he charges stem from a bribery scheme in which [one of the defendants], working with an individual who was cooperating with the FBI, made cash payments to influence and reward members of the Gadsden City Council for their votes in connection with a real estate development."

(esp)

August 18, 2007 in Corruption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Did They Fit All the Postage?

Given the size of the Pentagon's budget, fraud cases involving military procurement are usually going to dwarf other schemes because of the amounts involved, but one has to wonder whether anyone is paying attention to some of the billings.  In South Carolina, a parts supplier, C&D Distributors, and one of the twin sisters who owns the company, entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the fraud for overbilling the Pentagon for shipping parts to the military.  The fraud involved over $20 million of shipping costs, and the amounts involved are absurd:

  • $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas;
  • $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Iraq;
  • $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.

It's not clear why someone didn't just stop at the local hardware store, at least for the parts sent to Texas and Florida, rather than ordering such trivial amounts of material from a contractor -- but then government procurement is largely a world of its own.  One way the company was able to pull the wool over the Pentagon's eyes, assuming anyone was really watching, was to ship the items labeled "priority," which meant there was no review of the freight charges.  Apparently, you don't have to be overly clever to perpetrate a procurement fraud, although I suspect the military will be looking out for this scam in the future.  A Bloomberg story (here) discusses the plea agreements. (ph)

August 18, 2007 in Fraud, Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Judging the Judge

Being a judge is probably one of the best jobs any lawyer can hope to have, and competition to serve on the bench is keen, even with the relatively low pay.  Given how good the position can be, you wonder why anyone would risk it by engaging in a fraud.  According to an indictment in the Western District of Pennsylvania, a state appellate court judge in Erie is accused of defrauding two insurance companies through the age-old scam of faking an injury from a bogus automobile accident.  A press release (here) states:

[T]he indictment alleges that [the Judge] was involved in a low-speed automobile accident in Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania, on August 10, 2001.  Although neither medical nor law enforcement personnel were called to the accident scene, [the Judge] subsequently sought damages from State Farm Insurance, which insured the driver of the other vehicle, and his own insurer, Erie Insurance Group, for pain and suffering related to alleged injuries he received during the accident.

The indictment alleges that [the Judge] falsely claimed to Erie Insurance Group and/or State Farm Insurance, that the accident had adverse effects on his professional and personal life, including rendering him unable to golf, scuba dive and exercise, and preventing him from pursuing higher judicial office.

According to the indictment, during the same time period that Joyce made these claims, he played multiple rounds of golf in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, Tampa, Florida, Findley Lake, New York, and Fairview, Pennsylvania; went scuba diving in Runaway Bay, Jamaica and renewed his diving instructor certificate with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors; went roller blading on multiple occasions; and exercised at the Nautilus Fitness and Racquet Club, in Millcreek Township.  Also, the indictment alleges that between April 2002 and October 2002, [the Judge] applied for and received a private pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration and piloted an airplane on approximately 50 occasions.

In addition, the indictment alleges that [the Judge], in support of his claims, asserted that he had received the Republican endorsement and nomination in the 2001 election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2002.  In fact, he had neither the endorsement nor the nomination.

An "ignorance of the law" defense is probably a non-starter.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order (here) suspending the Judge from his duties on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, although it is with pay.  According to a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (here), the Judge intends to run in a retention election in November, and he said that once all the facts are presented he will be cleared.  (ph)

August 18, 2007 in Fraud | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Leahy's Latest Missive: IG Should Investigate Gonzales

Another day, another letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, this time to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice.  Leahy is asking for an investigation of a variety of statements made by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that seem to be contradicted by testimony from others, or even his own statements.  It seems that the AG can't come up to Capitol Hill without triggering cries about seemingly inconsistent testimony.  In the letter (here), Leahy writes:

I ask that you review the Attorney General’s testimony and compare it with other testimony and evidence to determine whether his testimony was in any instances intentionally false, misleading, or inappropriate.  Consistent with your jurisdiction, please do not limit your inquiry to whether or not the Attorney General has committed any criminal violations.  Rather, I ask that you look into whether the Attorney General, in the course of his testimony, engaged in any misconduct, engaged in conduct inappropriate for a cabinet officer and the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, or violated any duty – including the duty set out in federal regulations for government officials to avoid any conduct which gives the appearance of a violation of law or of ethical standard, regardless of whether there is an actual violation of law.

Leahy's letter outlines five instances the IG may want to look into, including the now-famous meeting in March 2004 in Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room at which Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew Card tried to get the Department of Justice to approve the Terrorism Surveillance Program over the objection of Deputy Attorney General James Comey. 

FBI Director Robert Mueller produced his notes of that meeting (here), which the House Judiciary Committee released.  The notes reflect the report of Comey about the meeting, which Mueller did not attend but arrived at the hospital shortly after Gonzales and Card left.  At the meeting with Gonzales and Card, Ashcroft "reviewed for them the the legal concerns relating to the program.  The AG also told them that he was barred from obtaining the advice he needed on the program by the strict compartmentalization rules of the W[hite} H[ouse]." [Italics added]  It's not clear what those "strict compartmentalization rules" were, but I suspect Gonzales will be making another trip up to Capitol Hill to answer more questions about why the Attorney General could not get the information he felt he needed to render a legal opinion.  That letter (and accompanying subpoena perhaps) should be going out soon. (ph)

August 17, 2007 in Investigations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Bank Stock Goes Up These Days?

The Wall Street Journal Deal Journal blog (here) raises a question about trading in First Charter stock before the announcement that it would be bought out by Fifth Third Bank.  While financial stocks have been pummeled the past few weeks as the meltdown in the subprime market is causing significant problems throughout the credit markets, especially for banks with mortgage operations, First Charter's stock increased 13% since the beginning of August.  The deal for First Charter is at $31 per share, more than a 50% premium to the previous closing price of $20.25 per share -- you don't think Fifth Third may have overpaid a little bit, do you?  Trading in First Charter shares was higher than usual in August, although that could be ascribed to the generally higher volume in the whole market due to the recent volatility, but then, some of the buying that increased the price could be due to information seeping into the market.  I was not able to locate a listing for call options on the company's shares, so buying the stock may have been the only way to bet on an increase in its price if someone had inside information about the buyout.  A premium that fat is awfully tempting to trade on, especially when so many stocks are down over the past few weeks, so the SEC will probably take a look. (ph)

August 17, 2007 in Insider Trading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dell Finds Its Accounting Problems

Computer giant Dell Inc. completed its internal investigation and discovered that it engaged in some "cookie jar" accounting to make sure it made its numbers.  In an 8-K (here), the company stated:

The investigation raised questions relating to numerous accounting issues, most of which involved adjustments to various reserve and accrued liability accounts, and identified evidence that certain adjustments appear to have been motivated by the objective of attaining financial targets. According to the investigation, these activities typically occurred in the days immediately following the end of a quarter, when the accounting books were being closed and the results of the quarter were being compiled. The investigation found evidence that, in that timeframe, account balances were reviewed, sometimes at the request or with the knowledge of senior executives, with the goal of seeking adjustments so that quarterly performance objectives could be met. The investigation concluded that a number of these adjustments were improper, including the creation and release of accruals and reserves that appear to have been made for the purpose of enhancing internal performance measures or reported results, as well as the transfer of excess accruals from one liability account to another and the use of the excess balances to offset unrelated expenses in later periods. The investigation found that sometimes business unit personnel did not provide complete information to corporate headquarters and, in a number of instances, purposefully incorrect or incomplete information about these activities was provided to internal or external auditors.

The restatement of the company's financials will result in a hit of between $50 million and $150 million to its earnings for prior years.  Dell is quick to point out the relatively small amounts involved compared to its revenues and earnings during the years in question: "Often, these adjustments were several hundred thousand or several million dollars, in the context of a company with annual revenue of between $35 billion and $56 billion and annual net income of between $2.1 billion and $3.6 billion for the periods in question."  Of course, it's that last penny or two of earnings that makes all the difference to Wall Street, which wants to see the quarterly number hit every time, or the stock price gets hammered.

Dell disclosed earlier that the SEC is conducting a formal investigation of its accounting, and the restatement is not necessarily the end of the matter.  As it noted in its filing, "While the restatement will address all of the issues identified in the Audit Committee investigation and in the additional reviews conducted by management, the SEC’s investigation is ongoing, and there can be no assurance that there will not be additional issues or matters arising from that investigation." (ph)

August 17, 2007 in Investigations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Central States Law School Association Conference

Central States Law School Association and the Journal of Law in Society Joint Conference October 26-27, 2007

The Central States Law School Association and the Journal of Law in Society announce a joint conference at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan on October 26-27, 2007. The conference will consist of a Friday afternoon symposium presentation of selected papers and Saturday open workshop panel presentations. With author consent, the selected symposium papers will be published in the Journal of Law in Society as its symposium issue for 2007-2008.

Authors will present selected symposium papers on Friday afternoon in up to three panel sessions with question and answer periods at the end of each panel session. A participant dinner will be held at the close of the panels on Friday. From 9 am until 4 pm on Saturday, authors will present papers on any private or public-law topic in a number of workshop panels, with question and answer periods either after each paper or at the end of each panel as the authors decide. The annual meeting of the Central States Law School Association and election of officers for 2007-2008 will conclude the conference on Saturday evening.

Symposium Topic

Does Globalization Represent a Threat or Promise for Social Justice and Democratic Institutions? With the rapid pace of globalization, countries have witnessed increasing integration of communications, economic processes, and financial markets. There is a widespread assumption that the competitive pressures unleashed by globalization are ultimately useful in spurring broader economic growth and greater integration, yet there is also growing concern that globalization plays a direct role in creating new and in some cases apparently insoluble problems for social justice and democratic institutions.

Conference participants are invited to consider this topic from three perspectives: (1) Does the growing power of corporations and their concomitant ability to set the terms of competition in a globalized economy aid or hurt social justice and democratic institutions? (2) Do increases in property right protection (including intellectual property regimes) aid or hurt social justice and democratic institutions? (3) Do financial and tax competition aid or hurt social justice and democratic institutions?

Open workshop paper proposals or abstracts may be submitted anytime up until August 25, 2007. Workshop paper proposals will continue to be accepted after the August deadline, subject to the availability of presentation slots.

Proposals must contain the following information: (1) name, address, telephone, and email; (2) title of presentation; (3) brief description of presentation idea; and (4) organization affiliation and position. Completed papers are not required, although they are welcome. Please send submissions via email to Mr. Oday Salim at the following email address: thejournal@wayne.edu. In the subject line, please include your name and the words "Central States."

Any other questions can be addressed to any of our officers:

President Linda Beale, Associate Professor, Wayne State University Law School, lbeale@wayne.edu; (313)577-3941

Vice-President Cindy Buys, Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University School of Law, cbuys@siu.edu; (618)453-8743

Treasurer Carolyn Dessin, Associate Professor, University of Akron School of Law, cld3@uakron.edu; (330)972-6358

Secretary Danshera Cords, Associate Professor, Capital University Law School, dcords@law.capital.edu; (614)236-6516

August 17, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If Vick Pleads Guilty

You can't turn on SportsCenter these days without seeing a federal courthouse or phalanx of attorneys toting heavy litigation bags.  The Michael Vick dog-fighting prosecution seems to be close to resolution, with his legal team helping him to decide whether to accept the government's plea offer.  According to a report on ESPN.com (here), the government's offer calls for a year in prison, which the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's lawyers are trying to get knocked down.  The government's offer would most likely call for a term of a year-and-a-day, which under the Bureau of Prisons guidelines would allow Vick to receive a 15% good time credit, reducing his sentence by 54 days to a bit over ten months.  Any sentence under a year that his attorneys are trying to negotiate would have to come in under ten months for it to be an advantage because there is no good time credit if the sentence is a year or less. 

A best-case scenario for Vick that the defense lawyers may be seeking is a double-nickel sentence: five months in prison, five months of home confinement.  Assuming Vick were sentenced by mid-November and began serving his term right away, this sentence would be over in mid-September 2008.  He could likely train during the home-confinement portion of the term -- assuming the electronic monitoring device does not interfere -- to be ready to play at least the second half of the 2008 football season.  Even a year-and-a-day sentence would involve a release by mid-September, although training for football would be difficult.  The NFL is likely to suspend him for a number of games, perhaps half the 2008 season, but that would coincide with the completion of the sentence and give him some time to get in shape.

If Vick decides to fight the charge, he may be reindicted on additional counts, which could result in a longer prison term if he is convicted.  A conviction may well result in a two to three year prison sentence, which could end his career in professional football.  The collateral consequences of a conviction will certainly be costly. (ph)

August 16, 2007 in Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Leahy to Bush: Can We Talk

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has tried a new tactic in an attempt to obtain information from the White House about the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006: a request for a sit-down meeting with the President, just the two of them -- with various aides hovering nearby, no doubt.  Leahy sent a letter (here) to President Bush that states:

I have sent numerous letters to your White House counsel to no avail.  For example, in a May 16 letter to Fred Fielding I outlined some of the indications of Karl Rove’s involvement.  Yet, all of my good faith efforts have been rebuffed.  The stonewalling leaves me and the Senate Judiciary Committee with few options other than considering citations for contempt of Congress against those who have refused to provide relevant testimony and documents to the Congress. 

Senator Specter has urged me to write to you directly and suggest that we sit down together to work out our differences with respect to this matter.  That is the purpose of this letter.

No word yet whether Joan Rivers will handle the red carpet duties if a meeting is scheduled.  With the departure of key Presidential aide Karl Rove in the near future, it is not clear whether the White House will be any more conciliatory on providing information, and the odds are certainly against much cooperation between the two branches. (ph)

August 16, 2007 in Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Siemens Bribery Probe Keeps Expanding

The probe into overseas bribery at Siemens A.G. seems to grow with each quarterly disclosure.  What started out as an inquiry by Italian and Swiss authorities into secret payments now seems to be engulfing a significant portion of the far-flung German company's foreign operations -- which is saying a lot because it operates in over 90 countries.  According to the latest SEC disclosure (here), the most recent quarter has revealed the following at Siemens:

  • During the third quarter of fiscal 2007, the Company continued to analyze payments under the BCAs identified at year-end of fiscal 2006 and payments under BCAs subsequently identified at Com. The Company is in the process of completing a Company-wide collection of BCAs, and is currently also conducting an analysis of BCAs and related payments at five other Groups (PG, PTD, TS, Med and I&S). The Company has recently commenced the analysis of BCAs and related payments at the remaining Groups and in selected regional companies. As a result, the Company has identified a significant increase in the total amount of BCA payments under review. The Company is currently analyzing the deductibility for tax purposes of these payments.
  • During the third quarter of fiscal 2007, the Company continued its analysis of cash and check payments at Com which may relate to BCAs, and which may also raise concerns under the FCPA and anti-corruption legislation in Germany and other countries. In the third quarter of fiscal 2007, the Company also commenced internal inquiries regarding similar cash payments at other Groups. As a result of these inquiries, which are ongoing, the Company has to date identified payments which do not relate to Com and for which limited documentation is available, including a significant volume of payments made through a bank account in Liechtenstein. The Company is currently analyzing the deductibility for tax purposes of these payments.
  • As a result of the investigations and through cooperation with the public prosecutors, the Company has become aware of additional bank accounts and cash funds at various locations that were not recorded in the Company’s balance sheet. The Company is currently investigating the origin and ownership of the assets contained in these bank accounts and cash funds.

Finding more accounts used to pay bribes is not a positive development, to be sure.  Siemens disclosed earlier that the Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation, and recently the SEC bumped up its inquiry to a formal investigation, which means it can issue subpoenas rather than rely on voluntary cooperation. 

What could make things all the more dangerous for the company is a report in the Wall Street Journal (here) that some foreign units have not been cooperative with Debevoise & Plimpton, which is conducting the internal investigation of the bribery.  A hint of non-cooperation is sure to put prosecutors on edge, and will likely drag out the investigation further because it will be difficult to verify that all the corrupt payments have been properly accounted for by the company.  If Siemens' new CEO, Peter Löscher, had hoped to resolve the investigations quickly, his desire will not be fulfilled.  The question for Siemens is how many more shoes will drop, and whether one of them will be by a prosecutor in Europe or the United States. (ph)

August 16, 2007 in FCPA, Investigations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who is Worse: The Bribe Payer or the Recipient?

With the recent spate of bribery cases involving military officials accepting money for steering Iraqi contracts to corporations, the Grits For Breakfast blog took a poll (here) of readers asking, among other things, who is more culpable: the corporation paying a bribe to obtain business, or a government official accepting one.  The results:

Slightly more people (17%) considered the company more culpable than the soldier (14%). One reader offered the canny insight, Remember Eve in the garden? She sinned, but the guy offering the bribe was really, really evil." The vast majority of Grits readers (67%) thought both the briber and the bribee were equally culpable.

The poll also asked whether the corporation paying the bribe should be identified in the government's charging documents when only the recipient is charged (or pleads guilty).  The usual practice is to identify the company as "Corporation A," in much the same way that recipients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's largess were called "Representative A" and "Representative B."  According to Grits: "92% of those responding to Grits' survey agree that federal prosecutors should NOT conceal names of companies alleged to have bribed soldiers or US officials."  Unfortunately, the Department of Justice policy is not to name unindicted parties, regardless of their perceived culpability.  While it is certainly problematic to charge only one side of a corrupt transaction, it is not necessarily good to allege crimes in a public document when the person (or organization) has no means to fight the allegation.  A conviction in the court of public opinion is tough to overcome. (ph)

August 16, 2007 in Corruption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Prosecutors Seek $16,925,000 Forfeiture From Lord Black

Federal prosecutors filed a brief (available below) in the U.S. District Court seeking a forfeiture order for $16,925,000 against Lord Conrad Black and two co-defendants, Peter Atkinson and Jack Boultbee, arising from their fraud convictions related to diverting funds from Hollinger International.  While the jury acquitted the defendants on most of the charges, they were convicted on mail fraud charges arising from a series of sales of community newspapers from 1998 through early 2001 in which they diverted funds by taking a portion of the proceeds for themselves as non--compete payments.  Prosecutors calculate the total amount taken from Hollinger in the transactions was $32,150,000, but because of an amendment in the asset forfeiture law in 2000, they are only seeking the funds generated after the law changed to avoid any ex post facto problems.

The U.S. Attorney's Office asked the court to order the forfeiture of the remaining proceeds from the $8.5 million sale of Black's New York apartment and his Palm Beach property that has been used to secure his bail.  In addition, prosecutors asked for the forfeiture of Atkinson's property in Napa, California.  If those assets do not satisfy the total judgment, then they can seek substitute assets because this case involves criminal forfeiture, which is not limited to obtaining money or property traceable to the fraud.  Needless to say, the defendants will fight the forfeiture.

The government's forfeiture argument sheds light on what prosecutors will argue is the appropriate sentence for Black and the other defendants under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  Because the transactions occurred before the major increase in the Guidelines sentences for fraud cases in November 2001, the applicable provision will be under a more lenient version in effect at the time of the transactions.  Under that version of the Guidelines -- Section 2F1.1 -- the base offense level is 6, and the loss to Hollinger of more than $20 million adds 16.  In addition, prosecutors will likely seek two point enhancements for more than minimal planning and abuse of a position of trust, and for Black they almost certainly will ask for a two-level increase for obstruction of justice, based on his conviction on that count.  Calculating an offense level of 28, that would put Black's sentencing range at 78 to 97 months, i.e. 7 to 8 years.  If he were sentenced under the November 2001 version of the Guidelines, the potential prison term would be in the range of 10 years.  Not that it needs to be repeated, but Black's lawyers will certainly dispute the loss calculation, and look for them to argue for a significantly lower sentence, perhaps even home detention -- somewhere outside the United States, no doubt. (ph)

Download us_v_black_government_motion_for_preliminary_order_of_forfeiture_aug_13_2007.pdf

August 15, 2007 in Fraud, Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washington Legal Foundation Program

Washington Legal Foundation Program -

"Over the past year, criminal defense lawyers, civil liberties advocates, and business associations have been seeking greater protection for white collar defendants’ rights and privileges in the face of increased corporate criminalization. A series of federal court rulings on the constitutional rights of former KPMG executives have helped to fuel the drive for such reform. On Thursday, August 16 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. EST, Washington Legal Foundation will be broadcasting a live Web Seminar examining the ongoing legal drama of U.S. v. Stein and the larger debate over the attorney-client privilege, the ability of companies to pay accused employees’ legal fees, and the McNulty Memo. The discussion features National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Stephanie Martz, and Lawrence Barcella, a leading white collar crime partner from the law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.

"We encourage you to interact with our speakers by emailing your questions during the program to interactive@wlf.org."

For more information, see here -

Download 8-16-07KPMG.pdf

August 15, 2007 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NBA Referee to Plead Guilty to Gambling Charges

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is set to plead guilty in Brooklyn to gambling charges, according to an AP story (here).  Word first leaked about a federal investigation of the referee in June 2007, and the case involves both wagering by Donaghy on games he called and leaking information that would be useful to other gamblers in betting on games that he did not officiate.  It does not appear that anyone else tied to the NBA, either players or other officials, is involved in the gambling. (ph)

                                                                                  

UPDATE:  A press release (here) issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York states, "Donaghy pled guilty this morning before United States District Judge Carol Bagley Amon to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a scheme to deprive the NBA of his honest services and to conspiracy to transmit gambling information."  Two other defendants were charged with participating in the gambling conspiracy. (ph)

August 15, 2007 in Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Public Corruption in El Paso?

elpasotimes.com reports on an ongoing public corruption case in El Paso. As with so many public corruption cases, the investigations can take several years.  Once an individual starts cooperating there is usually more ability for the government to prosecute others. Co-blogger Peter Henning notes in this article that "[e]lected officials either plead early or fight for a long time."  This is in large part because of the collateral consequences of a guilty finding.  As co-blogger Peter Henning notes, "[t]hey have to fight to the end because, either way, it is the end of their career."

(esp)

August 15, 2007 in Corruption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bid-Rigging Indictment

A press release of the DOJ reports on a recent Indictment "charging a commercial refrigeration company and its co-owner with participating in a conspiracy to rig bids on contracts for the installation of commercial refrigeration equipment in Safeway Inc. grocery stores in the Phoenix metropolitan area."  The alleged Sherman Act violation alleges that the former president and company charged, along with others, "[d]iscussed among themselves the submission of bids; [a]greed to allocate bids among themselves according to which company had a maintenance agreement in place at a particular grocery store; [s]olicited other individuals to join and facilitate the conspiracy; [d]esignated which company would submit the low bid and submitted a rigged bid; and [a]ccepted payment from Safeway for work done as a result of the conspiracy."

(esp)

August 15, 2007 in Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 13, 2007

All for 18 Thousand Dollars

Reuters and The Times Picayune report that Councilman Oliver Thomas of New Orleans pleaded guilty to bribery for his receipt of approximately 18 thousand dollars.  He also resigned his political position. It was reported that he has agreed to assist prosecutors in the ongoing investigation. This is likely to assist him when it comes time for sentencing.

(esp)

August 13, 2007 in Corruption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Prosecutor Takes Corporate Liability Posture In University Setting

Holding university officials responsible for alleged crimes in relation to the death of a student and the hospitalization of another, may be a new extension taken of vicarious criminal liability.  A local prosecutor in Mercer County, New Jersey has brought charges against school officials, including the dean of students, at Rider University for activities related to the death of a student. (see Fox News here)  The charges alleged are for a crime called "aggravated hazing." The school has adopted a new policy concerning matters of this nature.   

This prosecution raises important issues for those in a university setting.  Is it necessary for colleges and universities to establish corporate compliance programs to provide safeguards against criminal activity.  When the system fails will prosecutors be moving to charge the individuals who might fit the category of "responsible corporate officers" and will the next step be to charge the university or college as an entity. See also Higher Education law prof blog.

(esp)

August 13, 2007 in Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Michael Vick Stands Alone

It looks like NFL quarterback Michael Vick will stand alone to face a conspiracy charge arising from dog fighting on his Virginia property.  According to CNN.com (here), Vick's two remaining co-defendants have plea hearings scheduled, and I suspect they will join a fourth defendant in the case who has already agreed to cooperate in the prosecution.  If all three defendants implicate Vick in the dog-fighting operation, it will be very difficult to defend the charges.  Vick has already been ordered to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons' training camp, and rumors are swirling that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend him for the upcoming season.  If the two co-defendants do agree to cooperate against him, that increases the likelihood Vick will seek to enter a guilty plea that involves only a short prison sentence, if not probation, and some significant payment as "restitution."  As long as he's going to miss the NFL season, he might as well get the criminal case and any punishment out of the way sooner so that he can look toward the future and rebuild his career -- probably with another team. (ph)

August 13, 2007 in Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

John & Timothy Rigas Arrive At Prison

Yesterday, John & Timothy Rigas, former founder and CFO of Adelphia reported to prison. (see Yahoo news here)  Although they were hoping for a facilty in Pennsylvania near their home, the BOP gave them a facility in North Carolina. The punishment in these situations is often to the family of the individual who has to travel a greater distance to visit the incarcerated person. On the bright side, they were allowed to report directly to the facility as opposed to some who are hop-scotched across the country until they arrive at their final destination. For more on the charges, sentences, etc. of these individuals see here, here,and here.

(esp)

August 13, 2007 in Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)