Federal Prosecutors Recommend Up To 28 Years in Federal Prison For Bobby Ferguson In Kwame Kilpatrick Case

October 3, 2013

CBS Detroit on October 3, 2013 released the following:

“DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Awaiting the final turn in his long road of disgrace, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is at the center of a sentencing report for cohort Bobby Ferguson where prosecutors are seeking a 14 to 28-year sentence.

The sentencing is set for October 10 in federal court in Detroit.

Ferguson is described in the report as the “catalyst at the center of an historic and unprecedented extortion scheme along with former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.” He’s described as working “hand in glove” with Kilpatrick while he was in office.

The report says their scheme started back before Kilpatrick was even the mayor, when as a state representative he “stole several hundred thousand dollars” in grant money and used it to renovate Ferguson’s office and pay Carlita Kilpatrick for a job she didn’t do.

In March, Kilpatrick and Ferguson were convicted of racketeering conspiracy and other crimes. The government said Kilpatrick fixed contracts in a “pay to play” scheme, adding as mayor, Kilpatrick accepted bribes and abused a nonprofit fund, enjoying a posh lifestyle while his constituents suffered.

Kilpatrick has said his trial was unfair.”

Government’s Sentencing Memorandum as to Defendant Bobby W. Ferguson

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Trenton Mayor and Two Others Are Charged in an Alleged Bribery Case

September 11, 2012

The New York Times on September 10, 2012 released the following:

“By KATE ZERNIKE

The mayor of New Jersey’s capital was arrested on Monday and charged in what federal prosecutors described as a scheme to accept more than $119,000 in bribes in exchange for selling city property at a fraction of its value.

The arrest was the latest blow to the long-struggling city, Trenton, and its controversial mayor, Tony F. Mack, who narrowly escaped a recall effort last year as allegations of corruption dogged City Hall. Since he took office in 2010, a parade of his appointees have quit in various stages of disgrace, while residents and City Council members have complained that Mayor Mack’s mismanagement allowed the once-vibrant manufacturing city to fall further into neglect.

“It’s proving what I always said: full-blown corruption,” said George Muschal, a city councilman who has been a persistent critic of Mr. Mack, a Democrat.

The charges were the culmination of an inquiry that began almost immediately after Mr. Mack, 46, was elected. According to the 31-page complaint by prosecutors, Mr. Mack; his brother, Ralphiel; and his chief political benefactor, who were also charged, arranged to receive the bribes from two other men who had approached the city looking to build a parking garage on the main street between the State House and City Hall.

The two other men, who were not named in the complaint, were secretly cooperating with federal prosecutors, who recorded the conversations.

The arrest had been anticipated since July, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided City Hall and the homes of the mayor, his brother and his benefactor, Joseph Giorgianni, a sandwich shop owner who served time in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. Mr. Giorgianni was also charged on Monday with helping to operate an oxycodone distribution ring.

The United States attorney, Paul Fishman, said the investigation of the mayor was continuing. He said Mr. Mack was the third New Jersey mayor to be charged in recent months with abusing his office.

“The public deserves better,” Mr. Fishman said.

Mayor Mack and his associates spoke in code to try to avoid detection, referring to money as “Uncle Remus” and the mayor as “Napoleon,” the authorities said.

According to the complaint, Mr. Giorgianni, acting as the middleman, accepted several bribes intended for the mayor, then, in May of this year, offered the two would-be developers this deal: The city would sell the land for $100,000 — less than half its assessed value — if they paid an additional $100,000 to be split among the mayor, Mr. Giorgianni and an unnamed city official.

“One thing about the Mack administration,” Mr. Giorgianni later told the men seeking to develop the property, “we’re not greedy, we’re corruptible. We want anybody to make a buck.”

According to the complaint, when investigators confronted Mr. Giorgianni after the raids in July, he defended the mayor as “basically an honest man.” Mr. Mack was looking to do good things for Trenton, and if he received small payments along the way, Mr. Giorgianni said, that was “good corruption.”

Mr. Mack, who was released on $150,000 bail, denied accepting cash or anything of value in exchange for official action, the complaint said. Calls to his office on Monday went unreturned.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Bribery Case at Wal-Mart May Widen

May 18, 2012

The New York Times on May 17, 2012 released the following:

“By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD

As Wal-Mart reported higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Thursday, it suggested in a regulatory filing that the scope of an internal investigation into bribery accusations had widened beyond the retailer’s subsidiary in Mexico.

The company reported that the audit committee of the Wal-Mart Stores board was examining possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and “other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México.” It was the first public disclosure by the company that the internal inquiry could involve additional subsidiaries, though none was named.

The regulatory filing also confirmed that Wal-Mart is the subject of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department. And while Wal-Mart said in December that it did not expect the bribery accusations and their fallout to hurt the company, it backed away from that assertion on Thursday.

“Although the company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future,” the filing said.

A Wal-Mart spokesman, David Tovar, declined to comment further on the filing.

The disclosures on Thursday caught some analysts by surprise. Faye Landes, an analyst with Consumer Edge Research, wrote in a note to clients that the new information was “dramatic.”

“They can’t leave any stone unturned,” Ms. Landes said. “Now they have to make sure that everything is squeaky clean.”

The New York Times reported last month that Wal-Mart had found credible evidence that its Mexican subsidiary had paid bribes and that an internal inquiry into the matter had been suppressed at corporate headquarters in Arkansas.

Also on Thursday, two congressmen who are looking into Wal-Mart’s activities in Mexico said they had internal company documents that showed the company’s former general counsel had pushed for an investigation of some transactions in Mexico before she resigned in 2006.

Representatives Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman reiterated a request that Wal-Mart brief them on the bribery accusations, and asked that Wal-Mart authorize the former general counsel to speak to them. Mr. Tovar said Wal-Mart had already scheduled an initial briefing with the congressmen’s staffs, and was working to schedule another session.

Egan-Jones Proxy Services, which advises institutional investors, recommended on Thursday that shareholders vote against re-electing Wal-Mart’s chief executive, Michael T. Duke, and a board member, H. Lee Scott Jr., in June because of accusations that they were involved in the bribery case.

In a call with investors, Mr. Duke said, “We are working aggressively to determine what happened, and we will take appropriate action if violations of the law or our policies occurred.” Asked in a call with reporters to give an update on the timeline of the investigation or expectations about June’s shareholder meeting, Mr. Tovar, the Wal-Mart spokesman, declined to comment.

Wal-Mart also warned in Thursday’s filing that its reputation could be affected by the bribery scandal, with inquiries from the media and law enforcement authorities affecting the “perception among certain audiences of its role as a corporate citizen.”

Possible outcomes include enforcement actions that could lead to fines or criminal convictions; judgments against the company from shareholder lawsuits; and costs from the government’s investigations, from its own investigation and from defending itself against the lawsuits, the filing said.

The company “cannot predict at this time the ultimate amount of all such costs.” Further, the inquiry could involve some senior executives, and that could “could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business.”

David Strasser, an analyst for Janney Capital Markets, said in a note to clients that the market was getting comfortable with the impact of the bribery accusations. He said he believed the investigations would “be more about fines and perhaps personal repercussions, but the broader implications for the Wal-Mart franchise will remain somewhat modest.”

The new disclosures on Thursday came as Wal-Mart reported its quarterly results, which were higher than analysts had expected.

Profit rose 10 percent to $3.74 billion, or $1.09 a share, 5 cents per share more than analysts had expected. Revenue increased 8.6 percent to $112.3 billion.

In the United States, sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.6 percent versus the same quarter last year. That was the best quarterly same-store sales result in three years.

Charles M. Holley Jr., the chief financial officer, said in a call with reporters that while shoppers continued to be on tight budgets, they were responding to the wider array of merchandise and cheaper prices that Wal-Mart had been bringing in.

“We still see what we call the paycheck cycle,” he said, “where the customer has the cash and will spend money early when they get the paycheck, and as the paycheck runs out, it gets a little harder.”

Wal-Mart said its business in the United States was particularly strong in areas like hunting and fishing and in home and outdoor goods.

Apparel, which the company has long struggled with, posted its first positive comparable-store sales figure in six years. Mr. Holley said that the company’s focus on cheap prices had helped, and that women’s workout apparel, jeans and underwear were popular. “We sold a lot of underwear in the first quarter,” he said.

The company’s Sam’s Club warehouse unit posted a 5.3 percent increase in same-store sales, excluding fuel, helped by extra marketing efforts for its grocery business.

Internationally, sales grew 10.9 percent, adjusted for currency fluctuations.

Mr. Holley said that the Mexico investigation had so far not affected plans for store openings in Mexico and its overseas growth expectations.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Bribes Without Jail Time

April 30, 2012

The New York Times on April 27, 2012 released the following:

“By JAMES B. STEWART

As reported in a front-page article in The New York Times this week, the Wal-Mart Mexican bribery scheme has all the makings of a gripping criminal prosecution: millions of dollars in illegal payoffs to Mexican government officials and evidence of a cover-up scheme that went all the way to Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

And the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials by American executives, carries stiff penalties for those convicted: fines of up to $5 million and up to 20 years in prison.

So who’s likely to go to jail?

No one, if past precedent is any guide.

Exhibit A for any lawyer representing potential Wal-Mart defendants would probably be last year’s bribery case against the huge poultry, pork and beef producer Tyson Foods. Like Wal-Mart, Tyson employees bribed Mexican officials. When Tyson officials learned about the scheme, they covered it up. Even worse, they tried to keep the bribes going by changing the nature of the illegal payments. The scheme ultimately reached into Tyson’s executive suite in Springdale, Ark., with the company’s president of international operations and its chief administrative officer among those involved.

Last year, the Justice Department charged Tyson with conspiracy and with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Tyson didn’t contest the facts, agreed to resolve the charges with a deferred prosecution and paid a $4 million criminal penalty. The company paid an additional $1.2 million and settled related regulatory complaints that it had maintained false books and records and lacked the controls to prevent payments to phantom employees and government officials.

It’s axiomatic that people, not corporations, commit crimes. So what happened to the Tyson executives involved? Not only did the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission take no action against them, but the executives involved weren’t even named.

As I reported in a column last year, the highest-ranking Tyson executive involved was Greg Lee, then its chief administrative officer. Tyson announced in April 2007, the same month it disclosed its conduct to the government, that Mr. Lee would retire early. There was no mention of any bribery investigation. John Tyson, the company’s chairman, praised his “dedicated service to the company over the last three decades,” and the company paid Mr. Lee nearly $1 million and awarded him a 10-year consulting contract worth an additional $3.6 million. Mr. Lee was entitled to be reimbursed for his country club dues, to the use of a car and to “personal use of the company-owned aircraft for up to 100 hours per year,” according to his employment agreement. (Mr. Lee didn’t respond to my messages seeking comment.)

Wal-Mart’s Mexican bribery scandal, and the question of what to do about it, reached company headquarters in September 2005, according to the account by David Barstow of The Times. This was little more than a year after Tyson executives covered up their scandal. Given the subsequent outcome of the Tyson case, is it any wonder that Wal-Mart executives’ first reaction would have been to sweep the matter under the rug? Only after Mr. Barstow started asking questions did the company turn itself in to the Justice Department, no doubt hoping for something like the resolution its Arkansas neighbor received.

Neither the Justice Department nor the S.E.C. would comment on the Tyson case, now closed, or the continuing Wal-Mart investigation.

Both agencies have stepped up their investigations and prosecutions of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in recent years, and they now have units dedicated to foreign bribery cases. Last year, the S.E.C. brought cases against 14 companies and 12 people. Major companies caught up in recent bribery investigations include Johnson & Johnson, Halliburton and Siemens. Just this week, the former Morgan Stanley executive Garth Peterson pleaded guilty to violating the act while based in Shanghai. Morgan Stanley wasn’t charged, and it appears to have been a model corporate citizen. It fired Mr. Peterson and didn’t mince words. It turned over evidence to the government and disclosed the inquiry in an S.E.C. filing.

Despite this laudable effort, an outcome like that in the Tyson case — in which a company admits the facts and pays a fine but no individuals are charged — hardly seems isolated. According to research by Qi Chen, working with Prof. Andrew Spalding at the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, 37 of the 57 companies involved in bribery enforcement actions from 2005 to 2010 settled bribery accusations and had no related individuals charged.

One of the most vocal critics of the failure to charge individuals has been the former Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, who held hearings on the issue in 2010 while chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Criminal fines are added to the costs of doing business,” Mr. Specter said then. “Going to jail is what works to deter crime.”

This week he told me: “I’ve been speaking out on this issue everywhere I can. The Justice Department takes the view that deferred prosecutions are sufficient to deter bribery. But it obviously hasn’t worked. Maybe the Wal-Mart case will finally impel them to take a different view.”

That is not to say that no one has gone to jail for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Albert J. Stanley, former chairman and chief executive of KBR, the global contracting concern that was once a subsidiary of Halliburton, was sentenced in February to 30 months in prison for a scheme to bribe Nigerian authorities in return for contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities. Frederic Bourke, co-founder of the handbag maker Dooney & Bourke, was sentenced to one year and a day for his involvement in a scheme to bribe officials in Azerbaijan in a failed effort to take over the state-owned oil company. Last year, eight former executives of the German technology giant Siemens were charged with bribing Argentine officials in what the Justice Department characterized as “a stunning level of deception and corruption.” But the defendants live abroad and may never be successfully prosecuted in the United States.

I couldn’t find a case of an executive at a major American-based, publicly traded company who was successfully prosecuted and sent to jail. A majority of individual prosecutions appear to involve people of relatively limited means who are in smaller or privately held companies or who are officials in foreign companies based outside the United States, where there is little likelihood of a conviction. A typical case seems more like that of Gerald and Patricia Green, two Hollywood producers who were convicted of bribing the head of the Bangkok film festival. The couple was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement in 2010. At the time, Mr. Green was 83 years old and suffered from emphysema.

“It does appear that executives from U.S. public companies are not being pursued with the same vigor as individuals at private companies or who work on their own,” said Richard L. Cassin, founder of the firm CassinLaw and author of “Bribery Abroad” and “Bribery Everywhere.” “There are still a lot of enforcement actions against corporations where there are no indictments against individuals. The percentage of criminal cases against individuals is still very tiny.”

He suggests this may be partly because corporate executives, especially those with prominent lawyers whose fees are paid by their employers, are less likely to settle. And the Justice Department has suffered some embarrassing setbacks in a few recent litigated cases against individual defendants.

Asked for comment, the department provided this statement: “Prosecuting individuals who violate the law is an important part of our F.C.P.A. enforcement efforts. Since 2009, the Justice Department has secured convictions against 36 individuals for F.C.P.A.-related offenses. In all cases, we thoroughly review the facts and the law to determine whether criminal charges against individuals can be brought.”

An S.E.C. spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to holding individuals accountable. Where we have the evidence to bring cases against individuals, we do so, and we view that as a high priority.”

According to both the Justice Department and the commission, an important aspect of assessing a company’s cooperation is how it disciplines any executives found to be involved in a bribery scheme. Wal-Mart issued a statement this week saying: “We will not tolerate noncompliance with F.C.P.A. anywhere or at any level of the company. We are confident we are conducting a comprehensive investigation, and if violations of our policies occurred, we will take appropriate action.”

I asked Wal-Mart who, if anyone, involved in the bribery allegations had been disciplined, but I didn’t get a response. Eduardo Castro-Wright, who was described in The Times’s article as the driving force in the bribery conspiracy, is the former head of the company’s Mexican operations and remains at Wal-Mart, where he became vice chairman in 2008. Wal-Mart announced last September that Mr. Castro-Wright would retire on July 1, and he has since emphasized that his decision to retire had nothing to do with any bribery allegations.

In a send-off that echoes Tyson’s praise for Mr. Lee, Wal-Mart’s chief executive, Mike Duke, said: “Eduardo has made many contributions at Wal-Mart, beginning in Mexico and continuing until today. He has been a strong advocate for our customers and in every assignment has brought passion and commitment to the job.”

Mr. Castro-Wright isn’t a member of Wal-Mart’s board, but this week he resigned from the board of the insurer MetLife. “I now must focus my energy in spending personal time with my family and in protecting my good name,” he said, and confidently predicted that “these outside distractions will be resolved favorably within the next several months.”

But Wal-Mart may not turn out to be another Tyson. Professor Spalding told me “a lot has happened” since 2010, which is when he compiled the statistics on individual prosecutions. “The Department of Justice is making a strong push to hold individuals liable,” he said.

“Despite some recent embarrassing losses, the department must be looking for some high-profile prosecutions. Wal-Mart is about as high profile as you can get. This case could turn out to be a poster child for individual liability.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.