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

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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.


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.


John Edwards Defense Relies on Definition of ‘The’

May 14, 2012

ABC News on May 14, 2012 released the following:

By JAMES HILL and BETH LOYD

“Not since Bill Clinton challenged the definition of “is” has so much hinged on a very short word.

John Edwards appears to basing much of his defense, which begins today in a North Carolina courtroom, on the legal interpretation of the word “the.”

Edwards has listened to three weeks of testimony meant to prove that he violated federal campaign finance laws by using nearly $1million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy during his bid for the 2008 presidential election and in the months after he dropped out — but was still angling to be vice president or attorney general.

If convicted Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The statute governing illegal receipt of campaign contributions “means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money… for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.”

The words “the purpose” suggests that in order for a conviction, the sole reason for the money would have to be to finance a presidential campaign.

Edwards’ legal team has argued he did not know it might be illegal, did not intend to break the law and that his main reason for hiding Hunter was to keep her secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer.

Prosecutors, however, are arguing the law should be interpreted to mean “a purpose,” meaning use of the donations does not have to be solely for a political campaign.

“It is sufficient under the law if you find that the gift, purchase, or payment was made for, among other purposes, the purpose of influencing any election for federal office,” prosecutors argued in court filings last week.

Edwards’ lawyer Abbe Lowell has argued that prosecutors are asking the jury to “invent a new crime” with its interpretation of the law.

Edwards’ legal team will begin its defense today, which is expected to last a week. He may have a lot to overcome. Prosecutors concluded their case last week by showing an interview Edwards gave to ABC News’ “Nightline” program in which he clearly lied several times, including denying that he had fathered Hunter’s baby.

Judge Catherine Eagles also rejected a motion by Edwards’ team to dismiss the charges against him.

The defense is expected to go after the prosecution’s key witness Andrew Young, a former Edwards’ aide who helped hide Hunter, going on the road with her to keep her away from the press, even claiming paternity for his boss.

Edwards defense has argued that much of the money was solicited by Young and he used the scandal to enrich himself.

Among Edwards’ witnesses will likely be his daughter Cate, who has been his most visible supporter throughout the trial.

Hunter is on Edwards’ list of witnesses, but it’s not clear whether she will be called. Her presence in the courtroom could be volatile.

It’s not yet known whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.”

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

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.


Federal Prosecutors won’t call Rielle Hunter to testify at John Edwards’ Federal Criminal Trial

May 10, 2012

Boston Herald on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“Prosecutors won’t call Rielle Hunter to testify at John Edwards trial

By Anne Blythe and Martha Quillin / McClatchy Newspapers

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Prosecutors trying John Edwards have called a full cast of witnesses over the past three weeks to talk about $400 haircuts, fancy houses, posh estates, the whirlwind details in a presidential run, back-biting, betrayal and an extramarital affair that sent a one-time political star plummeting to the depths of a criminal trial.

On Wednesday, the day before prosecutors plan to wrap up their evidence, the one witness from the Federal Elections Commission, Patricia Young, an administrator in the Public Disclosure Division, was on the witness stand for not much more than 30 minutes. But prosecutors won’t be calling the woman who set the whole, sordid matter into motion — Edwards’ former mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Prosecutors told Judge Catherine Eagles late Wednesday that they still were on schedule to wrap up their side of the case on Thursday, and Hunter, the woman with whom Edwards had an extramarital affair and a child, was not one of the witnesses they intend to call.

Legal experts said prosecutors apparently will skip Hunter because she didn’t have direct knowledge of the money involved in hiding her and they can’t be certain of what she might say on the stand.

The Edwards case could test the sweep of campaign finance law.

When the government rests, the stage will be set for the first key ruling in the trial. Defense lawyers will likely ask Eagles, who will by then have heard the best evidence against Edwards, to dismiss the case in whole or in part. It is a standard maneuver in a criminal trial, but it may have a greater chance in this case in which the applicability of the law is also at issue.

Defense lawyers have argued that the campaign laws Edwards allegedly broke don’t apply to funds spent for personal reasons, such as the hiding of a mistress. Jurors will be asked to decide not only whether the expenses provided by two wealthy supporters should have been classified as campaign expenses, but whether there was any criminal intent by Edwards in not reporting that on public disclosure forms.

Prosecutors plan to call several federal agents on Thursday, but their case could go to a jury which will have to rule on the intent of key actors in a case that weighs heavily on intent without hearing from two, and possibly three, of the people at the center of the charges.

Prosecutors called the lawyer, librarian, farm manager and grandson of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the Virginia philanthropist who issued $725,000 in checks to help Edwards. But Mellon, just thee months shy of her 102nd birthday, was not called to testify.

Fred Baron, the wealthy Texas lawyer, who, prosecutors contend, provided several hundred thousand more dollars toward the effort to hide a pregnant Hunter from the media, died in October 2008. No one other than Edwards’ former aide and his wife, Andrew and Cheri Young, who deposited more than two-thirds of the money in their private bank account, have offered any testimony about Baron’s intent.

And Edwards, a trial lawyer who had much success with juries when he was in the courtroom, might or might not take the stand in his defense.

As prosecutors push toward the close of their case the defense team has offered themes of its own in their cross-examination of witnesses.

They contend that that most of the money prosecutors contend was coverup money say was used to hide Edwards’ pregnant mistress from the public to keep his campaign alive went to Andrew and Cheri the Youngs, key witnesses for the prosecution.

They continue to attack the character and motives of Andrew Young, making the trial as much Edwards versus Young as the government versus Edwards.

And Wednesday, they continued to push with their theory that Young was working closely with the FBI to ensure that an indictment was issued against Edwards. The defense contends he was in close contact with agent Charles Stuber, or “Chuck” as they’ve begun to call him.

The trial so far has offered political theater, psychological drama and wrought emotion from some of the witnesses.

Also on Wednesday, Jennifer Palmieri, a former Edwards’ campaign spokeswoman and friend of Elizabeth Edwards, became emotional while describing her relationship with the former Democratic presidential hopeful’s cancer-stricken wife and her last days.

“She was not able to speak at this stage,” said Palmieri, who now works for the Obama administration.

Shortly before she died, Elizabeth Edwards told Palmieri that she did not want to die alone, that when the time came, “there would not be a man around to love her.”

Palmieri said she would be there and was. So was John Edwards.

As Palmieri testified, Edwards, rubbed his eyes and pressed his forehead against his hand.

Palmieri was under cross-examination by defense lawyer Abbe Lowell after testifying for prosecutors about a rancorous October 2007 Iowa hotel meeting in which Elizabeth Edwards was angry at Baron and his wife Lisa Blue.

The Texas couple had taken Hunter on a shopping trip in California and Elizabeth Edwards was livid that they were continuing to stay in touch with Hunter. keep up with a woman with whom her husband had an extramarital affair. Edwards had told his wife a while back the affair was over and Elizabeth Edwards could not fathom why Baron and Blue were still in communication with her.

“Lisa kept saying, ’You’ve got to hold your friends close and your enemies even closer,’” Palmieri testified.

Palmieri, who has been involved with politics her entire career, offered testimony that played to contentions by prosecutors that Edwards built his campaign on a family-man image and that news of an affair could damage his chances. Therefore, the government argues, efforts to shield his family-man image were in fact campaign expenses.

Palmieri remembered the first National Enquirer story that mentioned the possibility of Edwards being involved in an extramarital affair.

It was months before the publication broke the news about Hunter being pregnant.

Palmieri talked about the efforts to keep the affair story from “jumping to the mainstream media.”

As she tried to help tamp down the story of the affair, Palmieri turned to Edwards and said: “If it’s true, don’t think you’re going to survive this.”

When pushed by prosecutor David Harbach about why she told Edwards that, Palmieri said: “A big part of his appeal was his family and his relationship with Elizabeth.”

Palmieri took the stand after speechwriter Wendy Button finished her testimony.

Button testified on Tuesday that Edwards told her in 2009 that he was aware all along that Baron had provided support to Hunter.

But on cross-examination, defense lawyer Abbe Lowell pointed out that Edwards had not specifically elaborated on what that meant.

Edwards and Button at the time were talking about Quinn, the daughter he had with Hunter. He was upset and very emotional, Button said, that he had lied on an ABC interview nearly 11 months earlier that he was not the father.

Button was helping him prepare a statement that would acknowledge his lie and perhaps clear up other lingering issues.

That statement went through at least 13 renditions, was vetted by lawyers and others, and eventually was not delivered.”

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

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.


FBI subpoenas in Whittemore probe aimed to surprise

February 22, 2012

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL on February 20, 2012 released the following:

“BY JEFF GERMAN

The big splash FBI agents made Feb. 9 when they simultaneously served subpoenas across the state in their campaign contribution investigation of power broker Harvey Whittemore was designed to interview witnesses before they had a chance to get their stories straight.

“It’s a fairly obvious law enforcement technique,” said Peter Zeidenberg, a prominent Washington, D.C., defense attorney and former prosecutor with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. “For obvious reasons, you want to talk to everybody before the target of the investigation gets wind of it.”

Kenneth Gross, another Washington defense lawyer experienced in dealing with campaign investigations involving conduit contributors, said agents were trying to catch those subpoenaed by surprise.

“Typically, the people who are used as conduits are not prosecuted,” Gross said. “A lot of times people will talk to the FBI in these initial interviews without seeking counsel first.”

Added Washington defense lawyer Douglas McNabb, who has battled the Justice Department for more than a quarter-century: “This kind of approach would certainly scare the hell out of the conduits. I think the FBI was hoping that at least one of them would say something that’s incriminating.”

About two dozen FBI agents served subpoenas Feb. 9 on Whittemore business associates and employees in some 30 locations in Northern and Southern Nevada.

FBI agents are investigating whether Whittemore funneled tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions through his employees and family members to Nevada federal candidates as far back as 2007, sources have told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Allegations surfaced in the Whittemore investigation that employees of his former development company, Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co., and its subsidiaries contributed to the campaigns and were reimbursed by Whittemore with company money the same day or the next day.

The FBI views conduit contributions as a way to skirt federal campaign finance laws that put ceilings on how much individuals can contribute to candidates.

Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden declined to comment on the Whittemore investigation.

But he added, “I don’t believe we have previously charged anyone in the District of Nevada with such an offense.”

In recent years, Whittemore, an attorney and longtime influential lobbyist with many friends in Nevada’s political hierarchy, had turned his attention to land development.

In 2007, Whittemore, who considered U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., among his closest friends, was orchestrating the development of Coyote Springs, a master-planned community in Southern Nevada. With the help of Reid and other members of the Nevada congressional delegation, Whittemore sought to overcome several governmental hurdles because of county water issues and federal land issues.

But in 2008, the 43,000-acre development stalled because of the housing crash and economic recession.

The FBI’s carefully planned operation on Feb. 9 took into consideration that the subjects of the investigation were a close-knit group.

Zeidenberg — who helped prosecute and convict I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a top aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney, in the CIA leak investigation in Washington — said serving subpoenas simultaneously in cases like this catches accomplices with their guard down.

“They’re not thinking about what they’re going to say whenever they’re asked about the money,” he said.

One of the goals of the FBI’s strategy was to get the lower-level people in the scheme, the conduits, to cooperate.

“From investigators’ point of view, serving a number of subpoenas on the same day or around the same time has shock value that may induce cooperation in witnesses that can deliver a bigger target for investigators,” said Paul Padda, a former federal prosecutor who helped maintain the integrity of elections for the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office.

Christopher Blakesley, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor who specializes in criminal law, said most people would be “worried” about not cooperating with FBI agents if served with a subpoena under those conditions.

“My guess is that’s the reason why the FBI took that approach,” he said.

Padda and other legal experts said there is a strong chance that some people decided on the spot to cooperate with FBI agents.

The subpoenas seek documents related to campaign contributions they made and copies of checks to and from the politically connected lobbyist.

The requested records date to January 2007, and those subpoenaed have been instructed to bring them to a federal grand jury convening Feb. 29 in Reno.

Contributions made on one date — March 31, 2007 — to Reid’s re-election campaign have attracted the interest of FBI agents, sources have said.

On that day, the Senate majority leader’s campaign received at least $133,400 from 29 Whittemore associates, including his family members and his employees and their spouses, most of whom each contributed the maximum allowed $4,600, according to federal campaign reports.

The number has ballooned from the original $115,000 figure the Review-Journal reported, as more associates and family members have been identified in the campaign reports.

Harvey Whittemore and his wife, Annette, also contributed $9,200 on March 31, 2007, bringing the total monies bundled by Whittemore to at least $142,600. Their contributions, however, are not likely to be considered conduit contributions.

Gross, former head of enforcement for the Federal Elections Commission in Washington, said he has never seen that amount of money bundled all at once in a federal race. “I can’t recall another situation where that much came in on a (single) day,” he said.

In June 2008, a federal jury acquitted Michigan attorney Geoffrey Fieger and his law partner, Ven Johnson, of making more than $113,000 in conduit contributions through employees and relatives of the employees to the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign of John Edwards.

Those contributions were spread out over a period of time. Fieger, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate, was known for representing the late advocate of assisted suicide, Jack Kevorkian.

Prominent Los Angeles attorney Pierce O’Donnell pleaded guilty in August to two misdemeanor counts of making illegal campaign contributions to the Edwards campaign. Federal prosecutors had charged him in 2008 with three felony counts of reimbursing $26,000 to 13 of his firm’s employees and other people who had contributed to the Edwards campaign.

In November, a federal judge rejected O’Donnell’s plea deal, saying the proposed six-month sentence behind bars O’Donnell agreed to serve was too harsh.

“These cases get exciting to journalists and sometimes the public because there are politicians associated with them,” said Zeidenberg, who has been involved in conduit contribution investigations as both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. “But that doesn’t mean the politician or public office is in any way connected to the improper activity.

“There’s no reason generally, unless proven otherwise, to think the public official would have any knowledge or awareness that this was going on.”

On the surface, the Whittemore investigation is being handled by the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, the Las Vegas-based No. 2 man in the office, is listed on the Feb. 9 subpoenas ordering the contributors to bring records to the Reno grand jury. Myhre requested checks to and from Whittemore, as well as documents related to campaign contributions dating to Jan. 2007.

Zeidenberg said it’s likely the Public Integrity Section, which handles public corruption investigations for the Justice Department, also has been consulted. Justice Department guidelines require it.

A former Las Vegas federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney said the FBI’s massive coordinated effort on Feb. 9 was a sure sign that it considers the investigation serious.

“Something like that is a commitment of resources,” the former prosecutor said. “It means it’s a high-profile investigation.””

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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 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.