Facing FBI scrutiny, former Democratic candidate files amended campaign finance report

August 26, 2012

Miami Herald on August 24, 2012 released the following:

“An ex-Democratic candidate whose cam- paign may have had links to Rep. David Rivera filed documents saying he loaned himself $64,000.

BY MARC CAPUTO AND MANNY GARCIA

A failed Democratic congressional candidate whose campaign is under federal grand jury investigation abruptly amended his financial disclosures to show he loaned himself nearly $53,000 more than he originally reported.

Before filing the new report, Justin Lamar Sternad, 35, insisted his finances were in order and steadfastly refused to say how he paid for tens of thousands of dollars worth of campaign-mail services.

Many of the transactions were in cash — sometimes in the form of $100 bills stuffed in envelopes, a campaign vendor said.

The big cash payments drew the attention of the FBI, which began examining the working-class hotel employee, a political unknown who now claims to have dropped about $64,000 of his own money in his Aug. 14 primary loss.

Campaign vendors told The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that Sternad’s congressional Democratic primary run was backed by Republican Rep. David Rivera, who says he has never met or helped Sternad. During the campaign, Sternad bashed Rivera’s main rival, Joe Garcia. Garcia handily won and faces Rivera in November.

Rivera and Sternad have denied working in concert. Rivera has publicly attacked Sternad’s campaign vendors who spoke about his role, calling them liars or Herald lackeys. Sternad has blamed them for his reporting problems.

“I did not previously report this loan because I was unaware of the final monetary obligation incurred by my campaign,” Sternad wrote to the Federal Election Commission, which posted his letter Thursday. “I have now received invoices for the expenditures … and this amendment represents satisfaction of those invoices.”

The filing of an amended report doesn’t mean that law enforcement is done examining his case, say legal experts. They say it’s unlawful to knowingly and willfully file a false federal campaign report — even if it’s amended later.

John Borrero, president of Rapid Mail & Computer Services in Hialeah, told El Nuevo Herald last week that Sternad’s campaign paid about $43,000 in cash for mailings.

Some payments were allegedly made by Ana Alliegro, Sternad’s campaign consultant, totaling at least $7,000, in crisp hundred dollar bills, stuffed in envelopes, several sources familiar with the criminal probe said.

Alliegro, according to the sources, also went to Rapid Mail after the initial Herald story, published on Aug. 16, demanding all records linked to Sternad, ordering employees to throw out everything and finally telling Borrero and his staff “I hope you have a lot of clients.”

Alliegro told The Herald Thursday night that she never paid cash, and that she went to Rapid Mail solely to collect the invoices and documents associated with the Lamar mailings, so he could file his amended financial disclosure.

Borrero said he turned everything over — to law enforcement.

As a result, investigators have ramped up the probe, interviewed witnesses and subpoenaed campaign records. A federal grand jury is now involved.

Kenneth Gross, a Washington-based campaign-finance expert not connected to the case, amending a report may help him “mitigate” criminal exposure. “But it depends on the gravity of the case, the amount involved and the intent,” he said. “Was the report amended of the candidate’s own volition, or were there other pressures at play?”

It’s unclear how Sternad afforded the $64,000 in loans he gave himself.

His financial disclosures show he earned about $30,000 last year from working at local hotels.

Sternad noted he had a trust fund, but reported no income from it this year or the previous year. He reported having a one-third interest in the fund, whose value ranges between $50,000 and $100,000.

Under campaign finance disclosure rules, candidates do not have to provide an exact amount of assets — only a range of value. But they are required to disclose loans in the reporting period in which the money was used. Sternad failed to comply.

Sternad has also had financial troubles in the past. He declared bankruptcy in 1997 and more recently Capital One Bank won a default judgment against Sternad’s wife for $1,746.48 on Jan. 11, records show. There is no record that the judgment has been satisfied.

Sternad’s explanation about needing invoices before he could report his loans and expenditures conflicts with what Borrero, the owner of Rapid Mail and Computer Service, told The Herald.

Borrero said he was paid for all the work, mostly in cash, before the mailings were sent. The amended report notes that the payments totaled $46,973.10. So some, if not all, of the loan should probably have been reported at the time.

Sternad seemed to blame Borrero for the problem, noting in an unusual statement tucked in his amended report that “Vendor refused to provide invoices until 8/17/12. Invoice provided dated 8/8/12. Vendor did not provide detailed postage information.”

The only expense not paid by cash to Rapid Mail came from Expert Printing. Sternad’s latest report shows Expert Printing billed him for a $6,000 expense. That expense was not listed in his previous report.

An owner of Expert Printing declined comment.

Sternad’s latest report and accounting irregularities sharply contrast with the image he portrayed as a fiscal hawk during a May interview with CBS-4’s Elliot Rodriguez.

“I do auditing,” Sternad bragged in talking about his hotel management job, “And I want to get in there [Congress] and cut out some of the fat, some of the pork.”

Questions about Sternad’s finances and ties to Rivera were first raised by Garcia’s campaign in early August after one mailer attacked the Democrat over his divorce. The Garcia campaign noted that Rapid Mail had done more than $100,000 worth of business with Rivera in 2010.

Another firm, Campaign Data, also performed work for Rivera in 2010. Owner Hugh Cochran said Rivera helped the Democrats targeted by Sternad in his sophisticated 11-piece mail campaign.

Rivera has responded to the charges by questioning the honesty of Cochran and Borrero, who say they’re telling the truth.

In his final pre-primary report, Sternad showed he had only $120.97 in the bank. His reports showed no payments to Rapid Mail, Campaign Data or Expert printing. Sternad was repeatedly asked how he could afford the mailers with no money in his campaign, but he refused to answer.

“Kiss my ‘lily-white’ ass,” he said in an Election Day email.

He has since refused comment.

Ironically, Rivera — a Republican lawmaker who’s implicated in the unreported cash-for-mailers scheme — is defending Sternad, a Democratic political newcomer.

Even though the congressman said he doesn’t know Sternad or have any connection to his campaign, Rivera was the first to obtain the new campaign-finance reports for Sternad.

An FEC spokeswoman said Thursday that the FEC’s mailroom had received the reports Tuesday, however they weren’t made public until Thursday. Until that point, they weren’t public record.

Rivera, who will not address specific questions from The Herald, refused to explain Thursday on Spanish-language Radio Mambi how he got the reports. Also, Rivera suggested that Sternad could afford the personal expenses because he has a trust fund.

Rivera accused The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald of working in league with Garcia.

“What I know is that nothing that is written in the Miami Herald can be believed,” Rivera said Friday morning on Radio Mambi, dismissing a suggestion by one of the hosts, Oscar Haza, that the Herald story was accurate.

Haza, who also hosts Spanish-language América Tevé’s (Channel 41) A Mano Limpia, interviewed Miami-based Reuters reporter David Adams on his program Wednesday night. Adams said he spoke to the campaign vendors quoted in the Herald and that they told him the same 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

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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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.


Indictment Charges Congressional Campaign Worker with Alleged Conspiring to Conceal Origin of Contributions

July 12, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 11, 2012 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven today returned a three-count indictment that charges Robert Braddock, Jr., 33, of Meriden, with participating in a conspiracy to conceal the source of contributions to the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives on which he worked.

The indictment alleges that Braddock, while employed as the Finance Director for the campaign of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, conspired to accept conduit campaign contributions, which are contributions made by one person in the name of another person. The purpose of the conduit contributions was to conceal the fact that the individuals who were actually financing the payments had an interest in legislation that was expected to be introduced, and eventually was introduced, before the Connecticut General Assembly during the 2012 legislative session. The candidate is also a current member of the Connecticut General Assembly.

“This indictment details an extensive conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI continue to investigate not only this matter, but all illegal behavior that corrupts our system of government.”

According to the indictment, Roll Your Own (“RYO”) smoke shops are retail businesses that sell loose smoking tobacco and cigarette-rolling materials and offer customers the option of paying a “rental” fee to insert the loose tobacco and the rolling materials into a RYO machine, which is capable of rapidly rolling large quantities of cigarettes. Customers do not pay a tax on the RYO cigarettes when rolled by the RYO machines, in contrast to cigarettes purchased over-the-counter. In August 2011, the state of Connecticut applied for an order permanently enjoining the RYO smoke shops from operating RYO machines, which the state argued were tobacco manufacturing devices under Connecticut law.

The indictment alleges that, in 2011, certain RYO smoke shop owners and others began to discuss the possibility that the Connecticut General Assembly would enact legislation harmful to RYO smoke shop owners’ business interests during the 2012 legislative session. In November 2011, the RYO shop owners arranged to meet with the member of the General Assembly to discuss their concerns. Also in November 2011, the RYO shop owners and others began to deliver to Braddock and the campaign checks in the amount of $2,500, which were, in fact, conduit contributions. Typically, the contributors were reimbursed with cash from one or more of the RYO shop owners. In November and December 2011, Braddock accepted a total of four $2,500 conduit campaign contributions.

The indictment further alleges that, on April 3, 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding voted in favor of Senate Bill 357, legislation that would deem RYO smoke shop owners to be tobacco manufacturers under Connecticut law, a designation that would have subjected RYO smoke shop owners to a substantial licensing fee and tax increase. Approximately one week later, Braddock accepted an additional four $2,500 checks in the names of conduit contributors.

On May 9, 2012, the legislative session ended, and the legislation had not been called for a vote by either chamber of the General Assembly.

The indictment alleges that, on May 14, 2012, a co-conspirator who helped to arrange the previous eight conduit contributions delivered $10,000 to the campaign in the form of three $2,500 conduit contributions made payable to the campaign and one $2,500 conduit contribution made payable to a political party. After Braddock was informed by the co-conspirator the next day that one of the contributions was in the form of a bank check provided by one of the Roll-Your-Own shop owners, Braddock arranged for the check not to be deposited into the campaign’s bank account. On May 16, 2012, the co-conspirator and another co-conspirator, who was an aide to the campaign, met at a restaurant in Southington. At that meeting, the co-conspirator provided the campaign aide with a replacement $2,500 check in the name of a different conduit contributor who was not affiliated with any Roll-Your-Own shops.

The investigation of this matter has included numerous recorded conversations, as well as an FBI special agents acting in an undercover capacity.

The indictment charges Braddock with one count of conspiracy to conceal federal campaign contributions, a charge that carries a maximum term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. Braddock also is charged with one count of accepting federal campaign contributions made by persons in the names of others, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of two years and a fine of up to $250,000. Finally, Braddock is charged with one count of causing false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher M. Mattei and Eric J. Glover.”

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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 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.


Nevada Lobbyist Harvey Whittemore Indicted for Allegedly Making Unlawful Campaign Contributions and Lying to Investigators

June 7, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Nevada lobbyist and lawyer Harvey Whittemore was indicted today in the District of Nevada by a federal grand jury on charges that he made unlawful campaign contributions to an elected member of Congress, caused false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and lied to the FBI, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.

F. Harvey Whittemore, 55, of Reno, Nevada, was charged with one count of making excessive campaign contributions, one count of making contributions in the name of others, and two counts of making a false statement to a federal agency. If convicted, Whittemore faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

“Mr. Whittemore allegedly used his family members and employees as conduits to make illegal contributions to the campaign committee of an elected member of Congress,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Furthermore, according to today’s indictment, he attempted to conceal his crimes by lying to the FBI. Our campaign finance laws establish maximum limits on individual contributions, and failure to adhere to those rules jeopardizes the integrity of our elections. We will continue to pursue those who engage in such conduct.”

“We remain committed to investigating and prosecuting illegal behavior that jeopardizes the integrity of our elections and corrupts our political process,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Campaign finance laws exist to protect that process and criminal violations of those laws will be vigorously prosecuted by this office.”

Under federal law, it is illegal to contribute to a federal political campaign using a conduit in order to hide the identity of the true contributor. Federal law also sets limits on the amount that an individual can contribute to a campaign. In 2007, the maximum individual contribution was $2,300 for a primary election and $2,300 for a general election; thus, the maximum for one candidate was $4,600.

The indictment states that Whittemore was the chief executive of Company A. On about February 21, 2007, Whittemore allegedly met with an elected member of Congress (identified in the indictment as Federal Elected Official 1) and agreed to try to collect $150,000 in contributions for the elected official’s campaign committee by March 31, 2007, which marked the end of a legally required quarterly reporting period. Aware of the strict limits on individual federal campaign contributions, Whittemore allegedly devised a scheme and plan whereby he used family members, employees of Company A, and their respective spouses as prohibited conduits through which to funnel his own money to the federal elected official’s campaign committee under the guise of lawful campaign contributions. This scheme allowed Whittemore to make an individual campaign donation to the federal elected official in excess of the limits established by federal law. Whittemore allegedly concealed the scheme from the FEC, the elected official, and the elected official’s campaign committee.

In March 2007, Whittemore allegedly solicited the employees, family members, and their respective spouses to make the maximum campaign donations to the federal elected official and reimbursed the contributors with personal checks and wire transfers. The indictment alleges that Whittemore attempted to conceal some of the reimbursements he made to the contributors by telling the employees that they were bonuses. Whittemore also allegedly paid the contributors additional money on top of the reimbursements. If a conduit contributed $4,600, Whittemore reimbursed the individual $5,000; likewise if a couple contributed $9,200, he paid the couple $10,000.

On about March 28, 2007, Whittemore allegedly caused a Company A employee to transmit $138,000 in contributions to the federal elected official’s campaign committee, the vast majority of which were conduit contributions that Whittemore had personally funded in order to satisfy his pledge to the federal elected official. On April 15, 2007, the campaign committee then unknowingly filed false reports with the FEC stating that the conduits had made the contributions, when in fact, Whittemore had made them.

On about February 9, 2012, Whittemore allegedly made false statements during an interview with FBI agents by claiming that he never made a request for campaign contributions; never asked employees of Company A to contribute to the elected official’s campaign; never provided payments to anyone with the expectation that they would serve as reimbursements for campaign contributions; never spoke to any candidate about raising money for the candidate; and never gave money to family members to make political contributions.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami, and Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Prosecutors also have stake in Edwards’ trial verdict

May 22, 2012

Myrtle Beach Online on May 21, 2012 released the following:

“By Anne Blythe

GREENSBORO — John Edwards might be the one with the most to win or lose with the jury deliberating his fate, but the U.S. Department of Justice has a lot riding on his case, too.

When the eight men and four women return to the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro Tuesday morning, they will begin their third day of deliberations in a case that also has put the Justice Department’s small public-integrity section under scrutiny.

Edwards’ trial came almost four years after the unit’s federal prosecutors bungled a corruption case against Ted Stevens, the U.S. senator from Alaska accused of failing to properly report more than $250,000 in gifts.

Stevens was convicted, , but the verdict was appealed and later vacated after it was revealed prosecutors and FBI agents had conspired to conceal and withhold evidence from the defense.

An investigation was launched into the integrity and professional practices of prosecutors in the public-integrity division. A scathing report from that investigation was released earlier this year, showing that prosecutors had “repeatedly ignored the law” and the ethical standards of their profession.

The Public Integrity Section was set up to root out corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government.

The section has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of federal judges and also supervises the nationwide investigation and prosecution of election crimes.

New chief for federal unit

Since the Stevens case, the unit has a new chief, former New York-based federal prosecutor Jack Smith. The Justice Department also has ordered training to make sure prosecutors disclose key evidence to defense attorneys.

Attorneys who have attended Edwards’ trial have commented throughout that the prosecution as well as the defense has a lot at stake in the case.

Edwards, a former two-time Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. senator who branched into politics after achieving success as a trial lawyer, was indicted last June on six counts related to violations of campaign-finance laws. The violations allegedly occured during Edwards’ campaign for the 2008 nomination, when two wealthy Edwards’ supporters gave more then $900,000 used to help hide Edwards’ extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy.

Each of the six counts Edwards faces carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, Kieran Shanahan, a former federal prosecutor from Raleigh who sat through the trial, said Edwards – if convicted and unable to successfully appeal – would likely recieve a concurrent sentence and serve no more than five years.

Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and co-author of “The Prosecution and Defense of Public Corruption,” said Monday that a not-guilty verdict would be “a black eye” for the justice department.

“It would call into question their decision even to pursue the case,” Henning added.

But he added that he had seen no surprises from the prosecution, and that ultimately the questions that arise from the trial might be those raised by rulings made outside the jury’s presence by Judge Catherine Eagles, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

Eagles prohibited a former Federal Election Commission chairman from offering his opinion to the jury on whether the money from billionaires Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron would typically be classified as a campaign contribution or gift. Scott Thomas, who had more than 30 years with the FEC, testified while the jury was out of the courtroom that he thought the money that went from Mellon and Baron to other people was used for personal expenses that did not need to be publicly reported or subject to campaign limits.

The jury, during its first two days of deliberations, has asked for many exhibits related to testimony about the $925,000 in checks issued by Mellon in 2007 and 2008.

Though only the 12 people on the jury know what is being discussed behind closed doors, the first two counts on the jury verdict sheet are related to the Mellon money.

Toward the end of the trial, the jurors sounded as if they were a collegial group, laughing and talking as they walked into and out of the jury box.

On Monday, the second day of deliberations, the jurors were quieter and somber-looking, barely looking at prosecutors or Edwards as they waited for the judge to answer questions or release them for lunch or the evening break.

As many await the verdict inside the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro, national political organizations are seeking answers and raising questions outside the tense atmosphere.

Objections to judge’s instructions

On Monday, the Center for Competitive Politics, a conservative group that promotes the deregulation of U.S. elections, harshly criticized the final juror instructions issued last week in the trial, particularly sections about the definition of “influencing an election.”

“If Edwards goes to prison, we will have an Alice in Wonderland world where conduct that would not be punished by a civil fine can result in jail time,” Allison Hayward, vice president for policy of CCP, said in a prepared statement.

The organization’s spokeswoman pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court case decided in 1976, the landmark Buckley v. Valeo case, which states that under “due process” a person of ordinary intelligence must understand that his actions could be considered illegal.

“There is no legislative history to guide us in determining the scope of the critical phrase ‘for the purpose of … influencing,’ ” Hayward further stated.

“The Supreme Court said the phrase ‘for the purpose of influencing’ is so vague and broad that it cannot be constitutionally applied to define campaign spending.””

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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.


John Edwards’ lawyers: $1M used to hide mistress wasn’t campaign contribution; FEC agreed

May 14, 2012

The Washington Post on May 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

GREENSBORO, N.C. — After weeks of testimony about John Edwards’ illicit affair and the money used to cover it up, his defense attorneys opened their case Monday by digging into the details of federal campaign finance law.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. He is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Defense attorneys are attacking the foundation of the prosecution’s argument that the money should be considered an illegal campaign contribution intended to influence the outcome of an election.

But even the federal government was split on that, the defense argues: The Federal Election Commission previously decided that the money was not a campaign contribution. In court Monday, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice called that decision irrelevant to their criminal case and argued against the jury being able to hear about it.

The first witness called by the defense was Lora Haggard, who was in charge of campaign finance compliance for Edwards. In 2008, she was chief financial officer of the John Edwards for President committee.

She testified that the money from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and campaign finance chairman Fred Baron has still never been reported on the campaign’s required disclosure reports, because even after Edwards was charged FEC auditors said it didn’t need to be.

She also said Edwards was never involved in formulating, filling out or filing campaign finance reports that were sent to the FEC. In the sixth count of his indictment, Edwards is accused of causing his campaign to file a false report through deceit.

“We never gave him a report to review,” Haggard said. “He had no input.”

The defense had intended to call former FEC chairman Scott Thomas as their first witness Monday morning, but prosecutors objected to his potential expert testimony on the FEC’s decision about the money. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles scheduled a hearing for later in the day over whether to limit Thomas’ testimony.

The defense opened its case Monday after the judge refused to dismiss the charges on Friday after 14 days of prosecution testimony.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday by playing a tape of a 2008 national television interview in which the Democrat repeatedly lied about his extramarital affair and denied fathering his mistress’ baby. Earlier testimony from a parade of former aides and advisers also showed an unappealing side of Edwards, casting him as a liar and lousy husband.

The defense has not yet indicted whether Edwards or his mistress, Rielle Hunter, will take the stand.

Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. But his testimony would expose himself to a likely withering cross-examination about his many past lies and personal failings.

Edwards pollster and friend Harrison Hickman took the witness stand shortly before the lunch recess Monday. Ex-Edwards defense lawyer Wade Smith may also be called Monday afternoon.”

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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.


Feds: John Edwards campaign finance experts ‘irrelevant’

November 30, 2011
John Edwards

Politico on November 30, 2011 released the following:

Posted by Josh Gerstein

“Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to reject an effort by former Sen. John Edwards’s defense team to call two former Federal Election Commission members as expert witnesses on campaign finance law at his upcoming criminal trial.

Edwards’s defense wants to call Scott Thomas and Robert Lenhard to testify about the complexities of federal campaign finance regulations and about their implications for the prosecution Edwards is facing for allegedly accepting illegal, off-the-books donations to his 2008 presidential campaign by participating in a scheme to direct about $925,000 in reimbursements from two of his wealthy supporters to his mistress and a child she and Edwards had.

Both Thomas and Lenhard will testify, according to summaries prepared by the defense, that if Edwards had asked them whether such gifts consituted campaign donations under federal election law, they “would have given the opinion that [the payments] did not fall within the scope of those laws.”

In a motion seeking to keep both men off the witness stand, prosecutors call the testimony “utterly irrelevant” and improper under federal legal precedent.

“It is a fundamental precept that expert testimony on the meaning and applicability of relevant law is inadmissible. This is because each trial court already has its own legal expert: the judge,” prosecutors wrote in their motion filed Monday. “What Mr. Thomas or Mr. Lenhard would have said in 2007 and 2008 simply has no bearing whatsoever on what Edwards thought or knew at the time.”

A defense spokesman had no comment on the motion to exclude Thomas and Lenhard from the trial, but a written response from the defense team is expected next week.

Ordinarily, expert witnesses are not permitted to opine on legal points, since the trial judge resolves legal questions. However, Edwards’s case arguably presents a more complicated question about whether he should have or could have known in 2007 and 2008 that the alleged scheme to support his mistress would be considered a campaign contribution.

The defense also wants the two men to testify about a 2002 FEC opinion issued to Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and holding that a $25,000 loan he accepted from a drug company lobbyist. “Testimony from retained experts about legislative history is of little to no use, even to the Court, much less a jury,” prosecutors wrote.

Judge Catherine Eagles previously rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case based on its failure to state a clear violation of federal law. However, that leaves open the possibility that the facts the prosecution presents at trial might not withstand a similar motion at or after the trial.

Eagles has set a Dec. 16 hearing to take up motions in the case, including a new defense motion seeking more information on the prosecution’s theory of the case.”

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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 McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.