John Edwards’ defense team rests

May 16, 2012

CBS News on May 16, 2012 released the following:

“(AP) GREENSBORO, N.C. — John Edwards’ defense team rested Wednesday without calling the two-time Democratic presidential candidate or his one-time mistress to the witness stand, a sign of confidence after presenting little more than two days of testimony and evidence.

The defense had called a series of witnesses aimed at shifting the jury’s focus from the lurid details of a political sex scandal to the legal question of whether the Edwards’ actions violated federal campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors spent nearly three weeks trying to convince a jury that Edwards masterminded a conspiracy to use nearly $1 million secretly provided by two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008.

Many people watching the case believed Edwards would testify so the jury could hear directly from the former U.S. senator and trial lawyer, who had a reputation for his ability to sway jurors. But putting Edwards on the stand was also a gamble: It would have exposed him to withering cross-examination about his past lies and personal failings.

Most experts were convinced calling Hunter to testify would have dredged up more negatives and lies. The defense also elected not to question Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cate, who has sat behind Edwards nearly every day of the trial and could have helped humanize him.

At one point during the trial, she ran out of the courtroom in tears during testimony about her cancer-stricken mother confronting her father about his extramarital affair.

The judge told jurors that no more witnesses would be called. It’s unclear exactly when closing arguments would start, but most likely Thursday.

Edwards is charged with six criminal counts including conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, accepting contributions that exceeded campaign finance limits, and causing his campaign to file a false financial disclosure report.

He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges.

Edwards has sat quietly at the defense table throughout his trial, whispering with his lawyers and rarely showing reaction to the often emotional testimony from witnesses who were once among his strongest supporters and closest friends. He has made no public statements since October, following a pre-trial hearing where a judge refused to throw out the criminal case against him.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court and people get to hear my side of this, and what actually happened,” Edwards said last year on the steps of the federal courthouse in Greensboro. “And what I know with complete and absolute certainty is I didn’t violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws.”

At the trial, prosecutors have shown two members of Edwards’ inner circle, campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and once-close aide Andrew Young, engaged in a yearlong cover-up to hide the married presidential candidate’s mistress from the media. Young, who is married, falsely claimed paternity of his boss’ baby and received $725,000 in secret checks from an elderly heiress, using some of the money to care for Hunter.

Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer, provided Young and Hunter with more than $400,000 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Prosecutors have introduced phone records, voicemails and other evidence showing Edwards was in frequent contact with Baron, Young and Hunter, all while his mistress was in hiding. Former members of Edwards’ campaign also testified that Baron spoke of “moving Hunter around” in the candidate’s presence and that Edwards told his speechwriter he knew “all along” what Baron was up to.

However, in 14 days of testimony, no witness ever said Edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws, a key element of criminal intent the government must prove to win a conviction.

The defense also undercut the credibility of Young, whom bank records showed siphoned off most of the money from Mellon to build his expansive $1.6 million dream house. Baron wired another $325,000 to the company building Young’s house.

Jurors were also read a stipulation about a sex tape the Youngs had, purportedly showing Edwards and a pregnant Hunter. Jurors were told Andrew Young considered selling the tape, and during his last personal encounter with Edwards on a rural North Carolina road, he told Edwards he had the tape.

The tape had only briefly been mentioned during the trial until Wednesday.

Before his indictment, Edwards rejected a potential plea agreement with federal prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve as little as six months and keep his law license.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, John Edwards made his fortune handling medical malpractice and corporate negligence cases before turning to politics following the death of his 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 auto accident. Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004.

Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in December 2010. He is now a single parent of two school-aged children, ages 13 and 11, who live with their father at the family’s gated estate outside Chapel Hill. Edwards’ 30-year-old daughter Cate is a lawyer who married last year.

After years of denials, Edwards admitted fathering his Hunter’s baby in January 2010, shortly after agreeing to pay child support. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.”

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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

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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.


Rothstein Associate Charged with Alleged Conspiracy to Violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, Defraud the United States, and Defraud a Financial Institution

April 10, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 9, 2012 released the following:

“Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced the filing of charges against Steven N. Lippman, 49, of Plantation, for conspiring to commit crimes through the operation of the former Fort Lauderdale law firm of Scott W. Rothstein, called Rothstein, Rosenfeldt, and Adler, P.A. (RRA). The defendant was an attorney admitted to practice law in Florida and, in early 2005, was designated as a shareholder of RRA, but had no equity interest in the firm.

The one-count information, which was filed earlier today, charges Lippman with conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, to defraud the United States, and to defraud a financial institution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison.

According to the information, Lippman violated the Federal Election Campaign Act in that he was unlawfully reimbursed by RRA for certain contributions that he made to the presidential campaign of John McCain. More specifically, the information alleges that co-conspirator Rothstein and others, including defendant Lippman, attempted to dramatically increase the stature and political power of RRA on the federal, state, and local levels by making substantial political contributions to political candidates. However, since many of the attorneys and administrative personnel of RRA either had insufficient funds to contribute to the political campaigns and/or lacked the desire to contribute to the various political candidates selected by Rothstein, co-conspirator Rothstein enlisted Lippman and others to contribute to the McCain campaign by agreeing that RRA unlawfully would provide them with the funds to make the political contributions. For example, in one instance, Lippman made a $67,800 contribution to McCain-Palin Victory 2008. Lippman, in turn, received a check from RRA in the amount of $77,500, which constituted reimbursement of the funds he used to make the contribution. The check was fraudulently backdated to reflect that it was issued six days prior to the date of the actual contribution, and the memo section of the check stated “bonus.”

The information also alleges that Lippman engaged in a bank fraud scheme with Rothstein. According to the allegations in the charging document, RRA was experiencing financial difficulties and required a source of funds to maintain the law firm’s operations. Lippman maintained a bank account from a prior law firm where he had been a partner (the LVS account). Around February 2006, co-conspirator Rothstein requested that Lippman use the LVS account to float checks between and among certain bank accounts maintained by RRA, a practice commonly known as “check-kiting.” By simultaneously issuing and depositing checks between the LVS account and the RRA accounts, co-conspirator Rothstein and defendant Lippman would artificially inflate posted balances in each of the checking accounts, which allowed them to unlawfully obtain beneficial financing for RRA from financial institutions during the “float” period, i.e., the time that it took for the checks to clear. For example, the information alleges that from February 2006 through February 2008, Lippman issued checks in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $400,000, totaling approximately $10,311,688, from the LVS account. At the time many of the checks were written, there were insufficient funds in the account of LVS to cover those checks. Defendant Lippman also deposited into the LVS account checks issued from RRA accounts in amounts ranging from $37,500 to $330,000, totaling approximately $10,664,987. Lippman and other co-conspirators engaged in this fraudulent conduct to create the appearance that RRA was an affluent and successful law firm and to gain additional time to meet the financial obligations of RRA.

Lastly, the information alleges that Lippman defrauded the IRS by failing to report as income certain expense reimbursements and other reportable income he received from RRA. Among other things, the information alleges that defendant Lippman and co-conspirator Rothstein agreed that Lippman would be paid a base salary and be given an expense account for which he would be fraudulently reimbursed for personal expenditures disguised as deductible business expenses. This was done so that Lippman and RRA could avoid paying additional federal income and employment taxes. In addition, Lippman was paid from both the operating account and the payroll account of RRA but would only receive an IRS Form W-2 reflecting the money paid to him through the payroll account. Lippman would not report to the Internal Revenue Service the money paid to him by RRA for expenses.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The breadth, scope, and sheer complexity of Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme is mind-boggling. Its success depended, in no small part, on the complicity of his colleagues and associates, like Steven Lippman. Lippman, an attorney, is now the ninth person to face criminal charges in connection with this scheme. As this investigation continues, I am sure that more will follow.”

“The charges against Steven Lippman show our resolve to unravel all the schemes in this complex financial fraud perpetrated by convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and his co-conspirators,” said John V. Gillies Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office. “It is disappointing that the number of people who chose wrong over right and participated with Rothstein in this massive fraud is at nine and rising.”

“With the April 15 tax deadline fast approaching, it is important for people to have confidence that when they file accurate, honest, and timely income tax returns, their neighbors will do the same,” said José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Miami Field Office. “Defendant Lippman attempted to skirt his tax obligations but got caught. IRS–CI will continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud America’s tax system.”

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the IRS-CID. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, and Jeffrey N. Kaplan.

An information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.”

18 U.S.C. § 371

US v. Steven N Lippman – Federal Criminal Information

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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

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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.