Sunday, April 8, 2018

In the News & Around the Blogosphere

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Mueller: What Could He Do And When Could He Do It?

Monday night, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed his Response [Government's Response in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss] to Paul Manafort's Motion to Dismiss the Superseding Indictment. Manafort's Motion to Dismiss is bottomed on the alleged invalidity of Acting AG Rod Rosenstein's May 7 2017 Order Appointing Robert S. Mueller III as Special Counsel and defining Mueller's jurisdiction. As part of his Response, Mueller referenced and filed Attachment C, a redacted version of Rosenstein's  August 2 2017 Letter Re The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority.

Before Monday night there was no public knowledge of this August 2 letter, which sets out in detail, among other things, the specific matters already under investigation before Mueller came on board.  According to the August 2 letter, the May 7 Order had been "worded categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals." The private August 2 letter, in contrast, "provides a more specific description of your authority." Recall that the May 7 Appointment Order authorized Mueller to "conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including...(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R § 600.4(a)." The August 2 letter unequivocally states that "[t]he following allegations were within the scope of the Investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the Order:

[Redacted]

• Allegations that Paul Manafort:

    º Committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the     Russian government's efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in     violation of United States law;

 º Committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian     government  before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych;

[Redacted]"

In other words, FBI Director Comey was already investigating Manafort for possible criminal collusion with the Russians and for payments Manafort received from Yanukovych, before Mueller came into the picture. By including the Yanukovich payments in his probe of Trump, Comey displayed an aggressiveness sadly absent from the investigation of Ms. Clinton's email server.

What is odd is that Rosenstein's August 2 letter was sent almost three months after Mueller began his inquiry. You would think that such a specific private memo detailing the scope of Mueller's investigative authority would have been issued contemporaneously with the May 7 Order. That it wasn't suggests there were disagreements in defining the outer boundaries of Mueller's charter or that Mueller or Rosenstein began to perceive problems with the wording of the May 7 Order and foresaw the possibility of just the sort of Motion to Dismiss ultimately filed by Manafort.

Rachel Stockman at Law and Crime notes here that the more specific delineation of authority laid out in the August 2 letter came one week after the raid on Manafort's home. Mueller may have wanted written reassurance that the search and seizure were within his authority ab initio, or, as we say in Texas, from the get-go.

(wisenberg)

April 4, 2018 in Corruption, Current Affairs, Defense Counsel, Government Reports, Grand Jury, Investigations, News, Obstruction, Prosecutions, Prosecutors, Searches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Van Der Zwaan Plea and Statement of the Offense

Hey, if the Office of Special Counsel can't decide the proper capitalization of his name, don't expect me to. Here are the  Van Der Zwaan Plea Agreement and the  Van Der Zwaan Statement of the Offense.

 (wisenberg)

February 20, 2018 in Current Affairs, International, Investigations, News, Obstruction, Perjury, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

In the News & Around the Blogosphere

DOJ Press Release, Arkansas State Senator Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud, Money Laundering and Bank Fraud 

John F. Savarese, Ralph M. Levene, Wayne M. Carlin, David B. Anders, Jonathan M. Moses, Marshall L. Miller, Louis J. Barash, & Carol Miller, White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement: What to Expect in 2018, Compliance & Enforcement

(esp)

February 4, 2018 in Corruption, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Media Coverage of Friday’s International Soccer Convictions

On Friday, two international soccer executives were convicted in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, for their roles in a global bribery scandal. The defendants were alleged to have received bribes and kickbacks to influence decisions regarding media rights associated with significant FIFA soccer tournaments. The defendants were also alleged to have accepted payments to influence the selection of venues for the World Cup and other important tournaments.

Juan Angel Napout, former head of South America’s football governing body, was accused of accepting $10.5 million in bribes, and Jose Maria Marin, former president of Brazil’s Football Confederation, was accused of accepting $6.55 million in bribes. Napout was convicted of several counts, including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering. Napout was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud.

After the convictions, FIFA stated, “FIFA strongly supports and encourages the U.S. authorities’ efforts to hold accountable those individuals who abused their positions and corrupted international football for their own personal benefit.”

The jury was unable to reach a verdict regarding the third defendant in the case, Manuel Burga, former president of the Peru soccer federation. Jurors will return next week to continue deliberating in his matter.

Since the investigation into international soccer began in 2015, more than 20 defendants have pleaded guilty. Several news outlets have in-depth coverage of Friday’s convictions, including the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the BBC and Bloomberg.

(LED)

December 23, 2017 in Corruption, Current Affairs, International, Money Laundering, News, Prosecutions, Sports, Verdict | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Manafort-Gates Indictment

On the Brink of Charges? UPDATE

The first thing to ask, if CNN's Friday night report is accurate, is who leaked? Because if the leak came from the government or court staff it is almost certainly an illegal violation of a sealed court order and/or grand jury proceedings. And if it came from the defense attorney of the party to be charged, who told him or her? The whole point of sealing something is so that the public doesn't know about it. All a courthouse staffer, moonlighting as media lookout, could have legitimately told the press is that "we saw so and so going into the court's chambers" or something along those lines.

Second, why would charges be sealed in the first place? Perhaps because the prosecution is afraid that someone will flee. That is the only legitimate reason I can think of to place an indictment under seal. If it was placed under seal to give government agents the opportunity for an early morning arrest it wouldn't surprise me one bit, given Andrew Weissman's dismal track record for hardball, heavy-handed tactics. (It will be interesting to find out someday just exactly what the government told a federal magistrate in order to get that no-knock warrant to search Paul Manafort's residence.)

Is it possible that the sealing was done in order to protect a defendant from having to spend the weekend (or at least one night) in DC jail? Unlikely. For defendants who do not turn themselves in by mid-morning in DC, the possibility of a night in jail is real. But if the prosecutors really cared about that, why not bring the charges on a weekday morning and allow the defendant to turn himself in the next day? This is done all the time.

Is it possible that the pending indictment report, true or false, is a deliberate ruse to see who will attempt to flee? In other words, does the government actually want someone to try to flee? After all, flight can be used as evidence of guilt in court. Unlikely, but anything is possible with Weissman in the number two slot.

We should find something out today. Here is Politico's excellent background piece by Darren Samuelsohn.

If there are any charges, expect them to be ancillary in nature. Look for false reporting violations or false statements to government agents. More to come.

UPDATE:

The Indictment is out and we will try to get it up as soon as possible. It is obvious that the prosecutors did the right thing in allowing Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to turn themselves in and that, in all likelihood, one of the defense attorneys leaked the news to CNN. Grand jury secrecy rules do not apply to witnesses or to those who receive their information from witnesses.

(wisenberg)

October 30, 2017 in Current Affairs, Grand Jury, Investigations, Legal Ethics, News, Prosecutions, Prosecutors, Searches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DOJ Ends Third Party Settlement Practice - But What is No Longer Allowed?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a press release today here putting an end to settlements that had payments to third parties as a condition of settlement. The press release says that " [w]ith this directive, we are ending this practice and ensuring that settlement funds are only used to compensate victims, redress harm, and punish and deter unlawful conduct.”  

Will this mean that Chris Christie's agreement as US Attorney with Bristol-Myers Squibb and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey that included an endowment of an ethics chair to Seton Hall Law School, will no longer be allowed in future agreements(see here, here, and here - see para. 20)? 

And will all the groups receiving funds from the BP Plea Agreement find that innovative resolutions will no longer be allowed in the future agreements?  For example the BP plea agreement included $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences for the purposes of Oil Spill prevention and response in the Gulf of Mexico. (see here)  The Court stated there -

"The National Academy of Sciences is required to use the funds to advance scientific and technical understanding to improve the safety of offshore oil drilling, production and transportation in the Gulf of Mexico." 

"Of course, the Court realizes that the fines and other penalties provided by the plea agreement can do nothing to restore the lives of the 11 men who were killed. But in the payment to the National Academy of Sciences, the agreement at least directs money towards preventing similar tragedies in the future. That the bulk of the payments to be made under the plea agreement are directed toward restoring the Gulf Coast and preventing future disasters, contributes to the reasonableness of the plea agreement."

AG Sessions says that "[u]nder the last Administration, the Department repeatedly required settling parties to pay settlement funds to third party community organizations that were not directly involved in the litigation or harmed by the defendant’s conduct.  Pursuant to the Attorney General’s memorandum, this practice will immediately stop."

It remains to be seen what will get included and what will be omitted in future non-prosecution, deferred prosecution, and plea agreements.  The actual memo is here.

(esp) 

June 7, 2017 in Civil Enforcement, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Environment, News, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Another Major Corruption Scandal Hits Brazil

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, the Second Global White Collar Crime Institute will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 7-8, 2017 at the Law Offices of Trench Rossi Watanabe. The program for the event is now available online.  What was already shaping up to be a fascinating conference will now be even more interesting with news breaking overnight of another major Brazilian corruption scandal.  

According to the New York Times, the Brazilian newspaper O Globo alleged overnight that a food company executive taped a conversation with Brazilian President Michel Temer in March that included discussions of "hush money" being paid to a jailed politician.  According to the the New York Times, President Temer is also alleged to have told the food company executive to pay a lawmaker in relation to a dispute at a company facility.  The President of Brazil issued a statement in response to the O Globo story denying the allegations, and the New York Times noted in its article that the paper had not yet independently confirmed the allegations. 

According to The Rio Times, the food company executive in question, Joesley Batista, told federal prosecutors about the conversation as part of his cooperation pursuant to a plea bargain.  Batista had been implicated in the Carwash corruption investigation in Brazil.  After news of the allegations broke, lawmakers from several political parties called for an investigation.  There were also calls for the President to resign.  According to The Rio Times, PSB national president Carlos Siqueira told local media, "The resignation of the President has become an imperative not to aggravate the crisis further.  The Temer government ended today." 

This latest alleged scandal comes at a time when Brazil is still reeling from the fallout of the Petrobras scandal, a case that led to the downfall of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.  These latest developments will certainly be ones to watch as corruption allegations continue to plague the Brazilian government. 

(LED)

May 18, 2017 in Corruption, International, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hats Off to Rod Rosenstein

Co-blogger Sol Wisenberg (here) called for Rod Rosenstein to "Hunker down Rod. Your country needs you."  There are many who feared that the appointment of a special counsel would not be as neutral as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  The appointment of special counsel/prosecutor could also delay a current investigation - after all anyone new would have to get up to speed.  But the DAG outdid himself here in appointing former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. 

The real hero of the story still remains Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and hopefully history will remember this.

(esp)

May 18, 2017 in News, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ABA White Collar Crime Conference - Title IX

This is the first time the ABA White Collar Crime Conference had a panel focused on "Due Process on Today's Campus: Handling IX Abuse and Harassment Cases."  Moderating this conference was Marcos Hasbun.  Panelists were Carolina Meta, Thomas C. Shanahan, and Hon. Nancy Gertner.  Many may think this is outside the scope of white collar criminal matters, but attorneys in the white collar area are often involved in the internal investigations for schools and criminal defense counsel can be called on in representation of clients - both individuals accused and victims.

Hon. Nancy Gertner noted that this was initially regulation guidance that was not issued with notice and comment.  It has had earth shattering consequences, as described by Hon Nancy Gertner. The preponderance of the evidence standard being used was noted. But unlike ordinary civil cases, you don't have discovery.  The panel discussed the "Dear Colleague" letter. She also noted the mandated procedures is how it has played out. Thomas Shanahan discussed the parallel proceedings that can occur with law enforcement and the university disciplinary proceeding.

It was noted that the university is under a mandate to move things along in 60 days. It was also noted that case lines are developing on two different tracks, including those arguing the denial of due process rights by the university.

Some argued that the process is focused on due process rights of the individuals making the accusation.  But it was also noted that some states, like North Carolina, permits counsel during the proceedings for the respondent.  It was noted it can be beneficial for counsel for the respondent to get the outside lawyer involved.

(esp)

March 8, 2017 in Defense Counsel, News, Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Judge Gorsuch and White Collar Crime

It is always difficult to predict how someone will opine if they are on the Supreme Court.  This is especially true if the prior judicial opinions do not cover a wide span on issues. In the case of the nominee, Judge Gorsuch, we do have some opinions to examine.

It is clear that he has excellent credentials from schooling and prior service on the bench.  Interestingly, however, is that Judge Gorsuch's ratings are below those held by Judge Merrick Garland, who never received a hearing on his nomination. (see here)  And in many ways Judge Garland had superior experience as the Chief Judge for the District of Columbia.  After all, his court saw many cases that involved issues of national concern, like national security, including those dealing with Guantanamo. Further Judge Garland is neither a far liberal nor a conservative, having offered to the bench a centrist that would be more appeasing to an already split nation. Everyone seems to agree that Judge Gorsuch presents a conservative approach. (see here and here)

But looking solely at Judge Gorsuch, and not the unfortunate circumstance of the failure of Judge Garland to have the hearing that Judge Gorsuch will now receive, where does Judge Gorsuch stand on white collar matters is the question.

Typically, those on the right tend to be pro-prosecution on Fourth Amendment and drug crimes.  In contrast, the same position is not taken in a white collar case.  Professor Kelly Strader in his article The Judicial Politics of White Collar Crime, documents this paradox.   Judge Gorsuch has a strong record of supporting the prosecution. (See, e.g., United States v. Mendivil, 208 F. App'x 647 (10th Cir. 2006)(affirming drug related conspiracy).  And some of these cases might be considered white collar cases (See, e.g., United States v. Carnagie, 426 F. App'x 640 (10th Cir. 2011)(affirming a sec. 1001 HUD related case).

But if one looks at cases beyond the Fourth Amendment, like a gun-related case - we see him emphasizing a strict statutory interpretation. (See United States v. Games-Perez (dissenting)).  Justice Scalia was particularly strong in enforcing strict statutory interpretation in white collar cases (e.g., Skilling (concurring opinion), Sun-Diamond Growers, McCormick (concurring), Santos).  Justice Scalia was not shy to use vagueness and the Rule of Lenity to accomplish having a white collar statute strictly construed.  And in this regard there is a strong similarity seen with Judge Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch's opinion in United States v. Renz, 777 F.3d 1105 (10th Cir. 2015) provides a glimpse of his statutory interpretation analysis.  He includes in the decision a diagram as he takes apart the elements of the statute in a methodical manner.  The opinion itself is well-organized, references precedent, and resorts to the Rule of Lenity when clarity is an issue. He was unwilling to accept the government's interpretation of this firearm statute.

So what can we expect if he joins the Supreme Court?  It is somewhat uncertain when examining the white collar area.  But it does appear that the government may have some problems if it tries to stretch statutes or if the statutes are not clear.

(esp) 

February 5, 2017 in Judicial Opinions, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 White Collar Crime Awards

Each year this blog has honored individuals and organizations for their work in the white collar crime arena by bestowing "The Collar" on those who deserve praise, scorn, acknowledgment, blessing, curse, or whatever else might be appropriate. With the appropriate fanfare, and without further ado, The Collars for 2016:

The Collar for the Best Left Hand Turn – To the Supreme Court following Justice Scalia’s death in affirming both insider trading and bank fraud convictions.

The Collar for Failing to Deliver the Goods – To the government for prosecuting Fed Ex and then needing to dismiss the case following opening statements. 

The Collar for Needing New Glasses – To James Comey so that he can read Agency policy to not do anything election related within 60 days of an election. 

The Collar for Sports MVP – To the world of tennis, which stole some of the focus from FIFA this year with the BBC's allegations of significant match-fixing.

The Collar for Slow and Steady – To Britain's Serious Fraud Office, which, after announcing the implementation of DPAs in October 2012, entered into its first DPA in November 2015 and its second in July 2016. 

The Collar for Quick and Steady – To the DOJ, which, according to Professor Brandon Garrett’s website, has entered into well over 100 DPAs and NPAs since October 2012. 

The Collar for Best Reading of this Blog– To the Supreme Court in reversing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction, this blog’s 2015 case of most needing review.

The Collar for the Longest Attempt to Justify a DecisionTo the 11th Circuit for its 124-page decision in United States v. Clay that attempts to justify how “deliberate indifference” meets the Global Tech standard.

The Collar for Worst Schmoozing at an Airport To former President Bill Clinton for causing AG Loretta Lynch to accept the FBI’s decision-making after Bill Clinton came abroad her airplane. 

 The Collar for the Most Underreported Settlement – To Trump University’s agreement to pay $25 million settlement in the Trump University case.

 The Collar for Mandating Corporate Backstabbing To Deputy AG Sally Yates, who keeps insisting her memo that promoted a corporate divide from its constituents – widely referred to as the “Yates Memo” -- should be called the Individual Accountability Policy.

 The Collar for the Pre-mature Weiner Release – To James Comey for his overly excited announcement about the former Congressman’s emails.

The Collar for Community Service to Russia – To all those who failed to investigate and release reports on computer hacking that caused the release of information during the election.

The Collar for the Quickest Backpeddling – To Rudy Giuliani for “clarifying” his statement that he knew about a confidential FBI investigation related to Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The Collar for Best Game of Hide and Seek – To Donald J. Trump for explaining that he could not release his already-filed tax returns because he was under an IRS audit.

The Collar for Best Self-Serving Confession – To the Russian Sports Federation for admitting there was systematic doping of Olympic athletes (but Putin didn't know about it).

The Collar for Quickest Recantation (aka the "Mea Culpa Collar") – To DOJ Chief Leslie Caldwell for criticizing overly aggressive AUSAs at a Federalist Society function and apologizing to DOJ attorneys a few days later.

The Collar for Best Judicial Watchdog – To Judge George Levi Russell III of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland for his post-trial decision reversing the conviction of Reddy Annappareddy and dismissing the indictment with prejudice based on prosecutorial misconduct.

The Collar for Never Giving In – To Josh Greenberg and Mark Schamel who tirelessly and brilliantly represented Reddy Annappareddy post-trial and secured his freedom.

The Collar for Best Money Laundering  – To the New York City and Los Angeles real estate developers who sell eight-figure condo apartments to anonymous LLP's owned by foreign officials and their families.

The Collar for the Best Child – To Don Siegelman’s daughter, who continues to fight to “Free Don.”

The Collar for the Best Parent – Retired years ago and renamed the Bill Olis Best Parent Award –not awarded again this year since no one comes even close to Bill Olis, may he rest in peace.

(wisenberg), (goldman), (esp)

December 30, 2016 in About This Blog, Current Affairs, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Government Reports, Investigations, Judicial Opinions, Money Laundering, News, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Josh Greenberg, U.S. v. Annappareddy Hero, Opens New Firm.

Readers of this Blog are no doubt familiar with United States v. Reddy Annappareddy, the District of Maryland case in which a guilty verdict was overturned (and new trial granted) with the grudging, belated concurrence of government prosecutors, because the government presented false testimony to the jury. The indictment was then dismissed with prejudice, over government objection, due to the government's destruction of potentially relevant evidence and the trial court's finding of prosecutorial misconduct.  All of this was the result of the tireless and brilliant work of Annappareddy's post-trial attorneys, Josh Greenberg and Mark Schamel of Womble Carlyle.  See my prior posts herehereherehere, and here. Since my last post, the government moved to withdraw its appeal, the Fourth Circuit granted the motion, and the mandate has issued. 

Now, Josh Greenberg, who played a key role in devising and implementing the post-trial strategy, has decided to open his own shop, focusing on white collar criminal defense, civil litigation, and appeals. Congratulations to Josh. We wish him the best.

(wisenberg)

December 2, 2016 in Defense Counsel, Judicial Opinions, Legal Ethics, News, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Where is FBI Director Comey Now?

We have been critical of FBI Director Comey's comments (see here and here) during the email investigations of Hillary Clinton.  On a positive note, it was good to see him pull together the FBI for a quick review of Hillary Clinton's emails after his missteps, although this should never have been necessary if commenting during the election had not initially occurred. 

But one has to wonder what kind of investigation has been occurring on the overarching problem - email hacking that is reported to be coming from outside the United States that disrupts and influences a U.S. election. (see here) The integrity of elections is crucial and a failure to assure that integrity is maintained is of the utmost importance.  So where is FBI Director Comey now, and why are we hearing nothing about this important investigation?

The NYMag.com is reporting here that "academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots."  In light of prior hacking of the DNC and the release of emails of individuals associated with Hillary Clinton, one would think the FBI would be conducting an immediate investigation to assure voters of the integrity of our election process. So where is FBI Director James Comey now? 

(esp)

  

November 22, 2016 in News, Prosecutions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Press Reports that President-Elect Trump Agrees to $25 Million Settlement in Trump University Case

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comey Digs A Deeper Hole

In white collar cases, prosecutors often stress the signs or "indicia" of fraud inherent in a given defendant's conduct.  In the FBI/DOJ investigation of Secretary Clinton we have several signs of incompetence and/or highly irregular conduct on the part of those in charge. The one that stands out most clearly to anyone who practices white collar criminal defense was the decision to allow Cheryl Mills to attend Secretary Clinton's FBI interview. Competent prosecutors do not allow a key witness to participate as an attorney in an FBI interview of the main subject. It just isn't done. It isn't a close question. It is Baby Prosecution 101. Director Comey's attempt to justify this decision during yesterday's House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing was disingenuous and disgraceful.  According to Comey, the FBI has no power to control which attorney the subject of an investigation chooses to represent her during an interview. This is literally true, but irrelevant and misleading. Prosecutors, not FBI agents, run investigations. Any competent prosecutor faced with the prospect of Ms. Mills's attendance at Secretary Clinton's interview would have informed Clinton's attorneys that this was obviously unacceptable and that, if Clinton insisted on Mills's attendance, the interview would be conducted under the auspices of the federal grand jury. At the grand jury, Secretary Clinton would not have enjoyed the right to her attorney's presence in the grand jury room during questioning. In the event Clinton brought Ms. Mills along to stand outside the grand jury room for purposes of consultation, competent prosecutors would have gone to the federal judge supervising the grand jury and attempted to disqualify Ms. Mills. In all likelihood, such an attempt would have been successful. But of course, it never would have gotten that far, because Secretary Clinton will do anything to avoid a grand jury appearance. So, Director Comey's response was a classic dodge, one of several that he perpetrated during yesterday's hearing. As noted above, the decision to allow Ms. Mills to attend Secretary Clinton's FBI interview was only the clearest example to date of irregular procedures sanctioned by the prosecutors in charge of the Clinton email investigation. More to come on that in a subsequent post.

(wisenberg)

September 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Defense Counsel, Grand Jury, Investigations, Legal Ethics, News, Obstruction, Privileges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fed Ex Case - Real Change Needs to Happen

In 2014, prosecutors proceeded with a case against fed ex.  Unlike many companies in a post-Arthur Andersen world, they would not be bullied into folding and taking a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement.  Instead, they took the risk - and it is always a risk - of going to trial. What makes this case particularly puzzling is that the company had cooperated with the government.  They hired a top-notch white collar attorney Cristina Arguedas and the government folded shortly after the trial began.  Now, according to Dan Levine and David Ingram in their Reuter's story, U.S. Prosecutors Launch Review of Failed Fed Ex Drug Case, the DOJ is reviewing this matter.  Some thoughts -

1.  It is good to see DOJ re-examining this case.  What happened here should not have happened, and learning from this case is important.

2. The review should not be limited to the fed ex case.  There needs to be an examination, especially for the smaller companies that cannot afford to go to trial, of the government cooperation tactics.

3. If cooperation is going to work, then credit needs to rightfully be given.

4. The government's pitting employees (the corporate constituents) against the employers (company) needs to also be examined.  This practice defeats the ability of corporations and individuals working together to root out corporate misconduct.

5. Criminal defense attorneys need to recognize that one can successfully take a corporation to trial against the government. The risk is enormous, but innocence needs to matter.

(esp)

 

July 15, 2016 in Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Media, News, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Comey's Statement on Hillary Clinton's Use of E-Mail

FBI Director James B. Comey spoke this morning regarding the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's Use of a Personal E-Mail System.  See his remarks (here), which are unique in many ways:

1.  Most investigations do not receive a formal statement saying that no charges will be recommended.  ("we don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors"). Most individuals are left hanging without receiving a statement such as this or a statement from DOJ.  Often folks may go through a lengthy investigation and but for the statute of limitations, they may never know it was over.

2.  By not recommending that she be charged, but by stating negative comments about her actions (calling her "careless") she is left without the opportunity to demonstrate the truth or falsity of these statements.  That said, having a statement that their recommendation to DOJ is that she not be indicted, is probably appreciated.

3.   It is important to remember that an investigation such as this is one-sided -  that is, the government is running the show. The FBI has no obligation to review or consider exculpatory evidence and one has to wonder if they shared what they found with defense counsel and gave them the opportunity to respond after they had reviewed the specific documents in question. Government investigations typically are not a give and take with defense counsel - they are the government accumulating as much evidence as they can to indict an individual and one only hears from the defense if and when there is a trial.

4. Is it the FBI's role to speak about hypotheticals when they have no hard facts?  For example, FBI Director Comey stated - "It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as 'personal' by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014."

5. The accusations about what her lawyers did were unnecessary statements that had no place in this FBI statement.  The statement that the "lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery,"  seems like a proper  action on the part of counsel - especially since they are dealing with the alleged classified documents.

6.  Their statement about deficiencies in the security culture of the State Department ("While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.") - To rectify this problem clearly takes money -  will Congress authorize money for better technology and security within the State Department?  

My Conclusions - It sounds like FBI Director James Comey's office did an extensive investigation and concluded that criminal charges are not in order - as it should be when a mens rea is lacking. It would be nice if this special instance of telling the individual that they are recommending against indictment were used in all cases when they have a recommendation for no indictment. When they do provide an announced recommendation of non-indictment, the FBI should limit their statement to just that. There is no need to tarnish a person's reputation in the process - especially when there is no concrete evidence to support the hypotheticals. Finally, becoming technologically savvy is difficult as the technology is constantly changing.  Perhaps we need to re-examine our technological infrastructure across the board with the government -something we should have learned post-Snowden.  Perhaps this can be put on the agenda of the next President.

(esp)

July 5, 2016 in Government Reports, Investigations, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Supreme Court Limits Loose Hobbs Act Interstate Commerce Interpretation to Drug Cases

The Supreme Court ruled today in Taylor v. United States, examining the interstate commerce element of the Hobbs Act. Although it provided a broad interpretation, it limited the decision to "cases in which the defendant targets drug dealers for the purpose of stealing drugs or proceeds."  The Court explicitly states that it "did not resolve what the Government must prove to establish Hobbs Act robbery where some other type of business or victim is targeted."

A strong dissent by Justice Thomas argued that there should be a showing that the "defendant's robbery itself affected interstates commerce."

What this opinion means for white collar cases is that a strict interpretation of interstate commerce should be argued in these cases, with a requirement that there be a showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused acts affected interstate commerce.

(esp)

June 20, 2016 in Judicial Opinions, News | Permalink | Comments (0)