“Can federal charges be brought against Zimmerman?”

July 23, 2013

Reuters on July 23, 2013 released the following:

“By William Yeomans

Now that a Florida jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter, people across the nation are demanding federal prosecution. But this public debate has been clouded by misinformation about the possibility and scope of federal charges.

President Obama’s powerful comments on Friday helped put this matter in perspective. The state prosecution deserves a strong measure of deference. The federal government must, however, conduct a thorough investigation and undertake the rigorous analysis necessary to ensure that the federal interest in punishing civil rights violations is vindicated to the greatest extent possible.

The public outcry for federal involvement reveals the legitimate passions stirred by the killing of Trayvon Martin and drives home the importance of getting this right. The decision whether to prosecute, however, must be based on the evidence and the law as analyzed by professional civil rights prosecutors in the Justice Department.

Here are the essentials that the public needs to understand.

1. Federal charges are not barred by double jeopardy. While a state or the federal government cannot prosecute the same individual twice for the same crime, the state of Florida and the United States are separate sovereigns. Each has independent authority to prosecute individuals for violating their respective laws. The Supreme Court has ruled that a prosecution by the state does not pose a constitutional prohibition against prosecution by the federal government.

2. Though a federal prosecution is not barred by the Constitution, the federal government will pursue a successive prosecution based on the same conduct only when the state prosecution has left unvindicated a substantial federal interest and the government believes the evidence will be sufficient to obtain conviction of a federal crime by an unbiased jury. These requirements, sometimes referred to as the Petite policy, appear in the manual that guides United States attorneys.

The killing of this unarmed African-American teenager implicates the substantial federal interest in punishing racially motivated violence. For the limited purpose of identifying the interest, prosecutors will assume they can establish racial motivation. The more difficult elements to satisfy are whether the federal interest has been left unvindicated and whether the evidence is likely to lead to conviction.

In evaluating whether the interest has been left unvindicated, it is not enough that Zimmerman was acquitted. Rather, federal attorneys must examine factors such as whether the jury disregarded the evidence or law, significant evidence was unavailable, state law required proof of a fact that is not required by federal law, or there was some other element of the prosecution that left vindication of the federal interest incomplete.

3. Federal civil rights laws generally serve as a backstop for state criminal law enforcement. Federal civil rights laws date back to Reconstruction. They are usually based on the notion that states have primary responsibility for punishing violent acts, but there are federal interests of such importance that Washington must have independent authority to prosecute. The need for federal criminal civil rights laws lies in part in the failure of recalcitrant state and local officials — particularly in the South — to enforce the law and of Southern juries to return convictions. If the state is pursuing charges against a defendant that, if proven, would likely vindicate the federal interest, the federal government will generally step back to allow the state process to play out. Once that is complete, the federal government can then evaluate the adequacy of the state process and decide whether to pursue federal charges. It may decide further investigation is necessary or it may conclude all the evidence has been obtained.

4. While successive federal civil rights prosecutions are rare, they do happen. Perhaps the best known example was the prosecution of the Los Angeles police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King in 1991. After officers were acquitted of state charges, the federal government indicted four officers and obtained convictions of two. Similarly, the federal government prosecuted and obtained convictions of two men in the anti-Semitic killing of Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights, New York in 1991 after they had been acquitted in state court.

5. Federal criminal law is limited, but there are several criminal civil rights statutes that serve as backstops to state law. Two such laws — 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242 — punish the deprivation of rights by state actors. These are the statutes used most often — as in the King case — to punish police officers who use excessive force. They appear unlikely to apply to Zimmerman, who was not cloaked in state authority, but was acting as a vigilante.

Two other laws — 18 U.S.C. 245 and 249 — prohibit racially motivated violence. Section 245 was enacted in 1968, as the first federal hate crime statute, along with the Fair Housing Act, which contains prohibitions against racially motivated violence associated with housing. Section 245 requires that the government show that the defendant used force because of race and because the victim was engaged in one of the six federally protected interests enumerated in the statute.

In this case, the government would likely have to show that Zimmerman attacked Martin because of his race and because he was using a public facility. The government would have to establish that the area where Martin was attacked was a public street or sidewalk, which could prove problematic since the attack occurred in a private, gated community.

In 2009, however, Congress enacted the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a crime to cause bodily injury because of race — regardless of whether the victim was exercising a federally protected right. This statute — 18 U.S.C. 249 — provides the most likely basis for a federal prosecution.

6. The major challenge of a federal prosecution will be to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was motivated by race when he shot Martin. Race plainly played a central role in Martin’s death. Few would contend seriously that if Martin had been white Zimmerman would have profiled him in the same way and would have initiated the contact that led to his death. The government’s challenge, however, would be to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that race motivated Zimmerman’s infliction of bodily harm. Zimmerman, doubtless, will argue that he was never motivated by race and certainly when he pulled the trigger he was defending himself and trying to save his life.

Most important, however, the state charges did not require it to prove racial motivation. The FBI has the opportunity and the obligation to investigate further into Zimmerman’s motivation.

In the end, whether or not criminal law provides a response to this unspeakable tragedy, the death of Trayvon Martin should spur each of us to heed Obama’s call to examine our individual attitudes about race, crime and culture. We should combine that reexamination with the extraordinary energy produced by the massive peaceful demonstrations following the verdict to examine harmful stereotypes and ill-conceived laws as we continue our long, painfully slow march toward the promise of a just nation.”

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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.


Feds warn of crackdown on Seattle gun violence

June 19, 2012

SeattlePI on June 19, 2012 released the following:

“GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — The Justice Department’s top official in Seattle promised Monday to start sending more people to federal prison for gun crimes following several tragic and random shootings in the city, including the deaths of four people at an artsy cafe.

For more than a decade, federal prosecutors have reviewed state cases of felons caught with weapons under a nationwide program called Project Safe Neighborhoods, and they’ve gone after some of the worst offenders — sending them to federal prison for longer than they would face under state law.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said her office will now prosecute all felon-in-possession gun cases in Seattle in which there is federal jurisdiction and in which the defendants would face more time federally.

“We have seen way too many shootings in the city this year,” Durkan said at a news conference. “If you bring a gun to a crime, you will do time, and you likely will do federal time.”

The federal penalties for gun crimes include up to 10 years for being a felon caught with a firearm, an automatic five-year minimum for bringing a gun to a drug deal, and a 15-year minimum for those who are caught with a gun after having three prior violent or drug-related felony convictions.

By contrast, under state law, ex-cons who are caught with a gun could face a two-year sentence if their underlying felony is considered “serious.” If the underlying felony is not considered serious — burglary, drug cases, and child pornography among others — it takes four convictions for being a felon-in-possession before the offender is sent back to prison for one year, said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who hosted the news conference Monday.

Few people realize how lenient state law is about felons who get guns, Satterberg said, and Washington state is also permissive when it comes to armed children. Children under 18 have to be convicted of illegal gun possession five times before they are sent to a state Juvenile Rehabilitation Authority facility for 15 weeks, he said.

Seattle has already seen more homicides this year — 21 — than it saw all of last year, though it remains one of the nation’s safer big cities.

On May 30, a man with a history of undiagnosed mental problems walked into a cafe in the city’s University District and opened fire, killing four people and wounding another. He then killed a woman downtown while stealing her car, and took his own life on a city street that afternoon as police moved in to arrest him.

The spree followed two unrelated, random killings. In the first, a 21-year-old culinary student who had just moved to Seattle was killed by a bullet fired from a passing car as she was walking home. In the second, a man was driving in a van with his children and his parents in broad daylight when a bullet struck him in the head. The still-unidentified shooter, who had been in an argument on the street, was aiming for someone else.

Last year, a King County deputy prosecutor specially designated to review gun cases for federal prosecution, Stephen Hobbs, looked at 200 cases. The U.S. attorney’s office wound up prosecuting 40 of those cases, and in about 50 others, Hobbs sent a letter to the defendants warning them that they would probably face federal prosecution — and a longer sentence — unless they agreed to plead guilty in state court.

In about 25 to 50 of the cases, the U.S. attorney’s office might have had jurisdiction but declined to prosecute, said spokeswoman Emily Langlie. For now, the office’s new policy of taking all cases applies only to Seattle.

Durkan, Satterberg and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn acknowledged that solving gun violence takes more than tough prosecution. The state lacks the capacity in many cases to provide meaningful interventions in emergency mental health situations, Satterberg said, and budgetary cuts to social services have compounded that.

But there are things people can do to help, they said. They urged gun owners to keep their guns properly locked up. While Seattle police have recovered 361 guns from criminals this year, 81 others have been reported stolen in burglaries, Deputy Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz said.

They also said state laws should be changed to make penalties stiffer for felons and children who get guns illegally, and to stop gun purchases at gun shows without a background check.

Durkan urged people to call police or mental health hotlines if they’re concerned about relatives who have weapons and may be mentally ill.

“There’s more help out there than people understand,” she said.”

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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.


Tax Crimes Least Likely To Be Prosecuted At U.S. Attorney’s Office In Los Angeles

April 16, 2012

Huffington Post on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Kendall Taggart

The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles is less likely to prosecute criminal cases referred by the Internal Revenue Service than its counterparts in the rest of the state, according to a California Watch analysis of five years of data.

The eastern district, which includes Sacramento and Fresno, was the most likely to prosecute IRS referrals, the data shows. But the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles was the only office in the state that fell slightly below the national average of prosecuting criminal IRS cases.

Each U.S. attorney has broad discretion over the priorities for his or her district. They determine which criminal cases referred to them by other law enforcement agencies they want to pursue and which cases to close without prosecuting.

It is difficult to determine why the Los Angeles office lagged behind its peers.

“It’s definitely puzzling,” said Terree Bowers, a former U.S. attorney. Since leaving the Los Angeles office, Bowers said he brought a fraud case to the office’s attention and was surprised that it didn’t act on the case.

The agency did not comment specifically on the findings, but Bruce Riordan, a U.S. attorney’s office spokesman, said: “I have been associated with the Department of Justice and the Central District of California for more 20 years, and based on my experience, the Central District has a longstanding and well-deserved reputation, both locally and nationally, for vigorously and successfully prosecuting criminal tax violations.”

The IRS investigates and refers cases about tax fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, organized crime and public corruption.

Compared with the volume of cases it handles, the IRS refers only a small percentage for federal prosecution. Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which compiled the data analyzed by California Watch, estimated that the odds of having the IRS refer a case to a federal prosecutor were about 12 per million nationwide last year.

In California, the IRS referred about 540 cases to federal prosecutors in the last fiscal year. When adjusted for population, the odds of having a case referred to a federal prosecutor in the state are 15 per million, slightly higher than the national average.

When they do receive cases from the IRS, three of the state’s four U.S. attorneys prosecute alleged offenders at a rate above the national average, the data shows.

Across the country, close to 54 percent of all IRS referrals are prosecuted. In the eastern district covering Sacramento, that prosecution rate is about 62 percent. For the northern San Francisco and the southern San Diego districts, the prosecution rate is the same: 57.8 percent. For Los Angeles, the rate falls to 51.4 percent.

The IRS has several ways of enforcing tax law, including audits and civil charges.

“The heavy gun of the IRS is criminal enforcement, but it’s a much less frequent event,” said David Burnham, a co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The federal tax filing deadline is tomorrow. But in the months leading up to that day, U.S. attorneys sometimes file several tax fraud indictments as a deterrent, Bowers said.

Since January, the U.S. attorney’s eastern district office has announced more than six fraud cases, including charges against three Sacramento women who are accused of trying to claim more than $1.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds. The scheme involved more than 280 false tax returns and numerous identify-theft victims.

According the the U.S. attorney’s office, the women filed fraudulent returns through TurboTax and obtained the tax service’s Green Dot debit cards “loaded with the tax return money.” The actual loss to the IRS was $962,079, out of the $1.3 million claimed by the women using various identities.

And late last month, the Los Angeles office announced that a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, William S. Bene, had signed a plea agreement admitting that he did not pay taxes for an illegal business selling karaoke machines. The U.S. attorney’s office said Bene sold counterfeit karaoke jukeboxes and failed to report $600,000 in sales to the IRS.

As part of his plea agreement, the U.S. attorney said, Bene admitted he had illegally copied and sold karaoke songs on hard drives that each carried about 122,000 songs.

“Intellectual Property crimes are not victimless,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a statement last month. “As this federal case shows, these crimes of stealth hurt the small businesses that do play by the rules, and they also deprive the federal government of tax revenue that could be put to beneficial use.””

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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 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.


Federal authorities watching investigations of Milwaukee police

April 4, 2012

Journal Sentinel on April 4, 2012 released the following:

“By Gina Barton of the Journal Sentinel

Allegations that seven Milwaukee police officers and a sergeant may have sexually assaulted people and violated their civil rights while conducting body cavity searches on the street have led to the most sweeping investigation of the Police Department in at least a decade.

Milwaukee County prosecutors have launched a John Doe investigation, an inquiry in which prosecutors can compel testimony and subpoena documents without public knowledge. Simultaneously, the civilian Fire and Police Commission and the department’s internal affairs division are reviewing numerous complaints dating back a couple of years.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office are closely monitoring the local investigation. If federal authorities are not satisfied with the outcome, they could launch an investigation of their own, as they did after the 2004 beating of Frank Jude Jr. by a group of off-duty offi cers.

In the Jude case, three officers were acquitted in state court. Ultimately, those three and four others were convicted in federal court.

And that’s not the only federal prosecution in recent years.

In total, at least 13 former Milwaukee police officers have been convicted of federal crimes since 2005.

But filing criminal charges isn’t the only way the federal government can get involved in fighting police corruption.

If federal authorities discover a pattern of civil rights abuses, a 1994 law gives them the authority to sanction an entire police department. Under the Obama administration, officials in Washington, D.C., have stepped up those prosecutions, known as “pattern or practice” investigations, experts say.

Federal authorities look for trends that show departments are tolerant of illegal or abusive behavior by officers, said David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who specializes in police accountability issues.

“The argument that there are a few bad apples, I don’t buy that,” he said. “The fact that they are allowed to exist and thrive in the open for years and years means you have a dysfunctional organization.”

Racial profiling; searches and seizures without probable cause; the targeting of minority populations for harassment; a poor citizen complaint process; excessive use of force; or excessive use of weapons or Tasers all could warrant federal intervention, Harris said.

The complaints about potentially illegal searches in Milwaukee’s District 5 that came to light two weeks ago follow two Journal Sentinel investigations that raise questions about the department’s procedures: One in December found wide racial disparities in traffic stops and searches; and one in October showed how 93 officers kept their jobs despite run-ins with the law.

“In any large organization, you are going to have some bad people,” Harris said. “But when those bad people are not rooted out, when discipline is uneven, when there is no sense that there is justice, when the department investigates itself, you undermine public confidence – even if crime is down.”

Pattern or practice investigations usually are triggered when the American Civil Liberties Union or another civil rights group files a complaint with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., according to Scott Greenwood, a constitutional and police civil rights attorney who also serves as national counsel for the ACLU.

Locally, the ACLU of Wisconsin is conducting its own research into both the invasive searches and the traffic stops, according to Chris Ahmuty, executive director. If the department and the Fire and Police Commission are not cooperative, filing a federal complaint could be the next step, he said.

“There’s not a contradiction between civil liberties and professional police service,” Ahmuty said. “This idea that the officers’ motives, if they are pure, that somehow ameliorates the harm, that doesn’t wash. You could see that could sort of infect the whole culture of the Police Department.”

Michael G. Tobin, executive director of the Fire and Police Commission, said it would be premature to conclude that a pattern of misconduct has occurred, he said in a statement.

“The fact that people have come forward indicates to me that there is confidence in the system that we have for handling these matters,” Tobin said. “Sometimes we lose track of the fact that we have made so many positive changes that have increased the public trust over the past five years or so. We have to keep earning that trust on a daily basis in everything we do, from the beat cop talking respectfully with everyone they meet, to the way we handle this investigation.”

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn was unavailable to comment.

Since 1997, the Justice Department has investigated more than two dozen police agencies – including those in New Orleans, Seattle and Maricopa County, Ariz., where the sheriff made illegal immigration his top priority – for potential pattern or practice violations, according to the DOJ’s website.

Pattern or practice investigations, conducted by the special-litigation section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, generally last several months and involve interviews with potential victims and a review of department records.

When it comes to department policies and procedures, Justice Department investigators are interested not only in whether good ones exist, but also whether they are followed, Harris said.

“If they have the systems but don’t use them, that could be just as bad a problem,” he said. “It could be your systems are just window dressing and you do things the way you have always done them.”

The investigations almost always result in a memorandum of understanding or a consent decree, both of which are agreements among the Justice Department, municipal and police officials and community members to work together for change, according to Harris and Greenwood. The key difference is that a consent decree is enforced by a federal judge.

While most agreements include monitoring of the police department and regular reporting of progress, other requirements vary.

In New Orleans, a consent decree is still being hammered out. In the meantime, FBI agents have taken up residence inside the internal affairs division, which, like Milwaukee’s, investigates its own officers when they are accused of wrongdoing.

In Seattle, the city and the Justice Department each have developed improvement plans and are working on an agreement to fix problems. The Justice Department has urged the Police Department “to collect and analyze data that could address and respond to the perception that some of its officers engage in discriminatory policing,” according to a letter federal officials wrote to the city’s mayor at the end of their investigation.

The Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff’s office must improve its training, data collection, complaint system and communication with non-English speakers, according to a letter to the county attorney presenting the Justice Department’s findings. Whether any or all of those reforms end up in an agreement remains to be seen.

It may take years for a pattern or practice investigation to yield tangible results, according to Harris.

“What this is supposed to result in is a transformed police department with state-of-the-art practices and all the rules for up-to-date police interaction with civilians,” he said.

The police chief must take the lead in changing the department’s culture, according to Greenwood.

That’s what happened in Cincinnati 10 years ago, said Greenwood, who served as lead counsel in the case there. The Department of Justice came in after 15 African-American men, some of them unarmed, died at the hands of police, according to Tom Streicher, Cincinnati police chief at the time. It resulted in riots, he said.

Although he initially resisted change, the Justice Department’s involvement helped him realize the department needed to be more transparent, Streicher said.

“Anybody who thinks they can do it alone is a fool,” he said. “No entity can do it all by itself because a police agency isn’t meant to serve itself any more than the government is meant to serve itself. You have to engage the public and you have to keep them engaged and you have to be accountable to the public because they give you the power and authority to police them. If you don’t have accountability, history has shown us you are destined to revisit what occurred before.”

At that time, the Cincinnati Police Department refused to release information about pending investigations, a policy that still exists within the Milwaukee Police Department and many others around the country. The Cincinnati Police Department’s agreement with the Justice Department changed all that.

“The agreement required us to share anything and everything we do with anyone who wanted to know about it,” Streicher said. “There was no more, ‘We can’t discuss this because it’s under investigation.’ ”

Within eight hours of an incident, the investigating officer was required to produce a PowerPoint presentation that could be shared with the public, Streicher said. Documents such as incident reports were given to the media before investigations were complete. When police officers were accused of wrongdoing, the department released their names and the allegations against them immediately.

“That evokes a lot of confidence in people,” Streicher said. “That’s what the Justice Department can do: Making policing better. Making police more responsible and accountable for their actions, as well as providing guidelines to improve the overall agency.”

Federal oversight in Milwaukee would go a long way toward changing a number of questionable customs, policies and procedures in the Police Department here, according to attorney Jonathan Safran, who represented Jude.

“We believe that better policies and procedures, utilizing outside agencies, and maybe having an independent monitor involved to review the investigations and outcomes, would restore citizens’ respect for, and cooperation with the City of Milwaukee Police Department,” he said in a statement.”

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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 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.


Edwards Loses Bid to Get Campaign Case Dismissed

October 28, 2011

The New York Times on October 27, 2011 released the following:

“By KIM SEVERSON

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge on Thursday rejected former Senator John Edwards’s request to dismiss criminal campaign finance charges against him, all but ensuring that Mr. Edwards will go to trial in January.

The ruling, by Judge Catherine C. Eagles of United States District Court here, came after a full day of arguments on Wednesday.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court,” Mr. Edwards said as he left the courtroom Thursday morning. “I never for a second believed I violated campaign laws.”

Mr. Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, has been charged with violating finance laws to hide an extramarital affair during his 2008 presidential campaign. Abbe Lowell, a powerhouse Washington criminal defense lawyer who recently joined Mr. Edwards’s legal team, spent much of the hearing arguing that the government’s case was vindictive, politically motivated and based on an overly broad definition of campaign contributions.

Prosecutors countered that the case was straightforward. Mr. Edwards solicited the money and used it, in effect, to try to influence the outcome of the 2008 campaign, they said. If convicted, Mr. Edwards faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

The nearly $1 million in question came from two wealthy supporters who provided cash, travel and living expenses for a campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, with whom Mr. Edwards fathered a child, and a former campaign aide, Andrew Young, and his family.

Mr. Young, who for a time claimed to be the child’s father, is expected to be a star witness for the prosecution when Mr. Edwards goes to trial.

Lawyers for Mr. Edwards argued Wednesday that the money was never a campaign contribution. Rather it was a gift, they said, that Rachel Mellon, a 101-year-old banking heiress, and the late Fred Baron, Mr. Edwards’s national campaign finance chairman, gave to help Mr. Edwards.

In a legal twist in the case, Mr. Young is scheduled to answer contempt of court charges in a hearing next month related to his behavior in a civil case winding its way through state court in North Carolina. That case centers on a sex tape purported to feature Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter and several photographs that may include images of Mr. Edwards and the daughter he had with Ms. Hunter, who was born in 2008.

Ms. Hunter claims Mr. Young stole the material from her. Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter have given depositions in the case.

Records in the sex-tape case have been sealed, but federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Edwards issued a subpoena ordering Mr. Young to turn over thousands of pages of documents.

In Mr. Edwards’s bid to get the charges dropped, his lawyers claimed Wednesday that the government conducted an overly elaborate investigation and spent a disproportionate amount of resources investigating the charges at the behest of the United States attorney at the time, George Holding, a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush who stayed on after the Democrats took the White House in 2008 to finish the Edwards case.

Judge Eagles rejected arguments that Mr. Holding, who has supported Mr. Edward’s political opponents, pursued the case to further his political ambitions.

Mr. Holding, who has since left the Justice Department, recently announced he is running for Congress.”

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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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


John Edwards, his attorneys deny conflicts of interest

October 17, 2011

Politico on October 17, 2011 released the following:

“Posted by Josh Gerstein

Defense attorneys for former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) are denying that there are any conflicts of interests that could preclude them from faithfully representing him in the federal prosecution he faces for allegedly receiving illegal, in-kind campaign contributions from donors who paid expenses of Edwards’s mistress and a child he fathered by her.

Edwards submitted a letter of his own to the court noting that he is an attorney, is aware that one of his new defense attorneys—Abbe Lowell—previously represented two possible witnesses in the case, and is fine with it. Lowell previously did legal work related to the same matter for former Edwards pollster and political aide Harrison Hickman, as well as Lisa Blue, the widow of Fred Baron—one of the donors who funded the mistress, Rielle Hunter.

“I have considered all the possibilities, and I do not see or believe there to be any conflict of interest or even potential conflict of interest between Mr. Lowell’s prior representations and his current representation of me,” Edwards wrote in an undated letter to Judge Catherine Eagles. “Even if this representation were a conflict of interest (which I do not believe it to be), after consultatyion with attorneys other than Mr. Lowell, I waive any such conflict.”

A court filing (posted here) by Edwards’s lawyers takes the same stance. “Mr. Edwards and his counsel have concluded that Mr. Lowell’s prior represenation of other witnesses does not create an actual or potential conflict in any way,” Edwards attorneys Lowell, Christopher Man and James Cooney III wrote.

The defense acknowledges that Lowell “put together from available sources information concerning funds Mr. Baron had given to Rielle Hunter and/or Andrew Young,” an Edwards aide who initially claimed paternity of Hunter’s child but later said Edwards was the father. Lowell also “faciliated” prosecutors interview with Hickman in the fall of 2010, the filing says. The filing also acknowledges that Lowell had direct e-mail contact with Hunter, which was part of “an attempt, after-the-fact, to determine what funds were paid and whether Ms. Blue had any financial obligations after Mr. Baron’s death.”

One well-known member of Edwards’s defense team, North Carolina attorney Wade Smith, has agreed to leave the case after prosecutors said he acknowledged in 2009 that the money paid to Hunter was a personal gift to Edwards and that Edwards was aware of the financial support.

“This was a conflict of the government’s making,” the new defense filing insists, hinting that prosecutors raised the issue to push Smith, a renowned trial attorney, off the case.

The defense also argues that the 2009 statement by Smith isn’t relevant to the charges knowingly accepted in-kind campaign donations in 2007 and 2008. The filing says Smith stepped aside so that “the truth about this conversation (if relevant)” can be demonstrated if he’s called as a witness at trial.

Prosecutors raised the possible conflicts last month in a fairly-common procedure that would likely preclude Edwards from raising the issues either at trial or on appeal. Their motion for a court inquiry into the matter also allowed them to detail in public some of the evidence and legal back-and-forth in the case. Eagles is expected to tak up the issue at a hearing in Greensboro, N.C. next week.

One side note: Edwards’s personally-signed letter to the judge twice refers to Hickman, his longtime political adviser, as “Mr. Harrison.” His full name is Robert Harrison Hickman, according to a letter he submitted saying he has no problem with Lowell representing Edwards.”

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.


Solomon Hobbs, Jr. Pleaded Guilty in Austin Federal Court to Wire Fraud, Student Assistance Program Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft

August 25, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas on August 24, 2011 released the following:

“DALLAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM

United States Attorney John E. Murphy announced that in Austin this morning, 47-year-old Solomon Hobbs, Jr., (a.k.a. Virgil Clinton Powell) of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $37,000 in student loans.

In all, Hobbs pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud, three counts of student assistance program fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. By pleading guilty, Hobbs admitted that since 2004, he developed a scheme to fraudulently obtain $37,395.05 in federal student financial aid, including $6,573.50 by using another individual’s name and identifying information, from five universities in Texas including: University of Texas at Tyler, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas at Arlington, Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls) and Texas State University. Hobbs further admitted that he had no intent of using the financial aid for educational expenses after repeatedly obtaining funds, then failing out of the institutions due to his lack of attendance.

Hobbs faces up to 30 years imprisonment per wire fraud charge; up to five years imprisonment per student assistance program fraud charge; and, a mandatory two years in federal prison on the aggravated identity theft charge.

Hobbs remains on bond pending sentencing before United States District Judge Lee Yeakel. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Freel is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List 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.

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