November 21, 2009
Oral Argument in Wesley Snipes Case
Previously granted oral argument (see here), lawyers for Wesley Snipes appeared in the 11th Circuit this past week to argue the case. A report of the argument sounded like it was a "hot" bench with questions regarding the venue and some about the "good faith" jury instructions. See also Greg Bluestein (AP), Wesley Snipes appeals 3 tax convictions in Georgia.
November 19, 2009
Shelnutt - Not Guilty
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia has their press release telling the world of a 40 count indictment of a Columbus, Georgia attorney. But no where on the website is the fact that a jury acquitted this same individual on all counts. As ministers of justice it should not be enough for prosecutors to merely say on the courthouse steps that they accept the jury verdict. Prosecution press releases should not be limited to indictments and guilty verdicts, but should also include the not guilty verdicts.
Shelnutt had been charged with a list of offenses that reads like someone opening the federal statutes and trying to find anything that could be used to destroy an attorney especially one who represents criminal defendants. They charged him with money laundering, aiding and abetting a cocaine conspiracy, attempted bribery of a federal official, witness tampering, failure to file cash reporting forms, and making false statements to an FBI agent.
The bottom line is that the jury did not accept the government's case. See Chuck Williams, Ledger - Enquirer, Shelnutt acquitted -Juror says government's case 'had a lot of holes'
November 15, 2009
The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) emphasizes transparency, but it did take me some time to find the website that told me what was going on in this office. It is easy if you put SIGTARP into Google, but not so easy - at least for me - if you try and find it within the Treasury Department website. For those who are looking, you'll find it here. The office issued its Quarterly Report here. It states in part:
SIGTARP’s Investigations Division has developed into a sophisticated whitecollar investigative agency. Through September 30, 2009, SIGTARP has opened 61 and has 54 ongoing criminal and civil investigations. These investigations include complex issues concerning suspected TARP fraud, accounting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, mortgage servicer misconduct, fraudulent advance-fee schemes, public corruption, false statements, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax-related investigations. While the vast majority of SIGTARP’s investigative activity remains confidential, developments in several of SIGTARP’s investigations have become public over the past quarter . . .
I am not impressed with the statement that resulted in Huffington's Post headline that TARP Fraud Probes Have Tripled Since April, Says Watchdog. The numbers should be increasing enormously - after all this is a relatively new office. But it is good to see that this office is getting off the ground, being staffed, and now moving to stop fraud occurring in the use of TARP funds.