Counterfeit sneaker defendant acquitted

October 20, 2012

The Buffalo News on October 19, 2012 released the following:

“BY: PHIL FAIRBANKS

By the time the predawn raids were over, 24 people were rounded up and charged, each one accused of taking part in a multimillion-dollar counterfeit sneaker ring stretching from China to Buffalo.

Five years later, one of the 24 rolled the dice and went to trial, well aware that each of his co-defendants had been convicted.

A federal court jury helped Greg Smiley beat the odds Thursday by finding him not guilty.

“He’s very happy and glad to be heading home to see his family,” said David R. Addelman, Smiley’s defense lawyer.

In understanding why Smiley went to trial – and ultimately got off – while 23 others did not, Addelman believes it is important to understand the defendants’ varying degrees of involvement in the counterfeit sneaker case.

He says Smiley was a relatively small player in the conspiracy, a network that started with manufacturers in China and stretched all the way to two New York City warehouses and ultimately to distribution points in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

“I don’t think we can read too much into it,” Addelman said of his client’s acquittal. “He was way out there in Atlanta all by himself.”

Prosecutors dismiss the notion that Smiley was anything but a major player in the conspiracy or that the case against him was weaker than against other defendants.

“We certainly felt the case was a strong one,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. “We charged 24 men and women and 23 were convicted.”

As the owner of Top of the Line Fashions, a small neighborhood clothing store, Smiley stood accused of buying and selling counterfeit Nike sneakers.

From the start, he argued that, yes, he bought the sneakers but no, he had no idea they were fakes.

“The prosecution was, he must have known,” said Addelman. “And the defense was, that’s no way to convict someone.”

The jury seemed to agree even though the prosecution, eager to prove Smiley knew what he was buying, played taped recordings of his conversations with one of the alleged ring leaders, Malik Bazzi.

“He’ll tell you how the whole operation ran,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski said of Bazzi early on in the trial. “He’ll tell you how he found suppliers. He’ll tell you how he found customers. And most important, he’ll tell you how he knew Greg Smiley.”

Federal agents also testified against Smiley, noting the taped conversations with Bazzi and the repeated delivery of counterfeit sneakers to Smiley’s store in Georgia.

Addelman countered by suggesting the recordings proved very little and that Smiley was nothing more than another victim of the conspiracy.”

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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.


Federal prosecutors: Jamaican woman had a ‘sham marriage’ with a Kansas soldier

August 20, 2012

The Washington Post on August 20, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

WICHITA, Kan. — A Jamaican woman accused of entering into a “sham marriage” with a Kansas soldier faces a federal trial Tuesday during which jurors must decide whether she wed for love or for immigration purposes in a criminal prosecution.

Prosecutors say Shannakay Hunter was an a illegal immigrant who conspired with Joshua Priest, then a private in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Riley, to enter into marriage so she could get a “green card” and regain her legal status, as well as receive military benefits such as health care for herself and her two children. Priest, 23, in turn received Army housing and subsistence benefits provided to married soldiers. The government contends their May 2010 marriage in Junction City was never consummated and the couple never lived together.

But the defense in its court filings has portrayed the 28-year-old Jamaican immigrant, who lives in Bronx, New York, as a hardworking mother who admittedly overstayed her visa but married for love — and that her husband only made the allegations of fraud out of anger. The defense plans to call as a witness the victim advocate who took care of Hunter after an alleged domestic abuse incident in Junction City involving Priest.

Which portrayal of Hunter prevails — fraud or loving wife — will be determined during a three-day trial that begins Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Hunter faces charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud and making a false statement to the government. If convicted she faces up to five years in prison on each count, although she would likely get far less, if any, prison time under federal sentencing guidelines. But she would likely be deported.

“I am absolutely mystified by this prosecution,” defense attorney Molly McMurray said in a phone interview. “You know, there are hordes of people coming into this country every day, and for some reason the government is picking on a woman who came here legally who has no criminal record. Now, she did overstay her visa, but she works and she takes care of her two children, who are United States citizens.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson, who is prosecuting the case, in an email said, “We disagree with the lawyer’s statement but we cannot respond to it as to this specific case until after the case has been concluded.”

Priest is expected to be the government’s star witness. He pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and wire fraud in a deal with prosecutors for leniency in exchange for his testimony against his wife. He will be sentenced in October after admitting he got $26,000 in military benefits for married soldiers that he was not entitled to receive.

The marriage came to the government’s attention in February 2011 when Hunter returned to Fort Riley from New York to make sure Priest would attend an upcoming immigration hearing in which her change of status was going to be heard. She told Priest’s superiors that he failed to provide support to her since their marriage, as required by Army regulations, and that he needed to be ordered to attend her impending immigration hearing, given his “moral obligation” to do so, according to a court filing.

After his superiors confronted him, Priest told them the marriage was arranged so Hunter could get legal immigration status. His superiors ordered him to attend the immigration hearing but also reported the suspected marriage fraud to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fraud hotline and the Army’s Central Investigations Divisions, court documents show.

Hunter’s defense attorney acknowledged that while the couple has always lived apart, she would often come to visit her husband in Kansas.

“She is adamant — and has been the entire time — that she is innocent,” McMurray said. “It is weighing heavily on her.””

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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.


Attorney: Terror suspect isolated for a year

June 12, 2012

CBS News on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Iraqi man facing terrorism charged in Kentucky has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year with no contact with other inmates or access, television, radio or outdoor recreation during the daytime, his attorney said.

The conditions under which 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi have been held violate his constitutional rights, defense lawyer Jim Earhart said.

“It’s horrendous,” Earhart told The Associated Press on Monday. “He’s doing about as well as could be expected if you put someone in a room by himself for a year.”

Earhart has asked U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell to release Hammadi on bail until his Aug. 27 trial in Bowling Green. Russell has postponed the trial from the original date of July 30 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hammadi faces 12 charges, including attempting to send material support such as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and explosives to al-Qaida. A co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing Oct. 2.

Prosecutors said Alwan and Hammadi lied to gain refugee status and enter the U.S. Prosecutors also said the pair took part in insurgent activities near Baiji, Iraq, including planting improvised explosive devices targeting U.S. troops.

In search warrants in the case, the FBI said the pair talked about attacking American soldiers and building homemade bombs. The two were caught in an FBI sting involving a confidential informant.

Earhart is due in federal court Wednesday in Louisville for a hearing on the bail request. The motion does not specify where Hammadi would spend his home detention if he is released. Federal authorities use several detention centers in Kentucky to hold inmates. Court records do not reveal where Hammadi is being held under an assumed name. Federal prosecutors had not responded to a request for comment nor filed a response in court as of midday Monday.

Charles Rose, a former Army intelligence officer and military attorney, said there may be intelligence or national security reasons for keeping Hammadi under an assumed name and in isolation.

“It’s perfectly legitimate to do it if they’ve got a valid reason to believe this individual might be a danger to himself or others or if others might be a danger to him,” said Rose, who teaches at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. “Is it uncommon? Absolutely, it’s uncommon.”

Since pleading guilty, Alwan has been moved to the general population at an undisclosed jail and given the freedoms of other inmates, including the ability to socialize, watch television and have recreation time during the day, Earhart said.

When asked if federal authorities were trying to coerce a guilty plea from Hammadi by putting him in solitary confinement, Earhart said he wasn’t sure, but found the differing circumstances of Alwan and Hammadi curious.

“It seems more than coincidental,” Earhart said. “The only difference I can see between them is one pleaded guilty and one hasn’t.”

Earhart said he’s discussed a plea deal with prosecutors, but so far they have not reached an agreement.

Rose said to show that Hammadi is being mistreated, Earhart will have to present evidence that there’s no legitimate reason for holding his client in isolation.

“His detention has to be above board and not behind somebody’s back,” Rose 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

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.


Detail by Detail, Gupta’s Lawyer Deconstructs Goldman Testimony

June 11, 2012

The New York Times on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“BY AZAM AHMED AND PETER LATTMAN

It had to have been among the least productive weeks of Lloyd C. Blankfein’s six-year tenure as the chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

For the better part of three days this week, Mr. Blankfein testified at the trial of Rajat K. Gupta, the former Goldman director who is facing charges that he leaked the bank’s secret boardroom discussions to the hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam from 2007 to 2009.

Though Mr. Blankfein appeared at ease in the courtroom, he had to clear his busy calendar. He could not monitor the volatility in the financial markets. He could not even check his BlackBerry, to which he has acknowledged something of an addiction. In short, he could not do his job.

Instead, Mr. Blankfein, who has spent most of his career in the fast-paced environment of a trading floor, had to sit still on the witness stand and respond to hours of often-monotonous questions. Lawyers on both sides had him discuss Goldman’s inner workings, from the contents of board meetings to his relationship with his lieutenants.

Goldman has played a starring role in the trial of Mr. Gupta, which wrapped up its third week in Federal District Court in Manhattan before Judge Jed S. Rakoff. The prosecution rested its case on Friday, and the defense began to put on its own witnesses.

Late Friday, after the jury had gone home for the weekend, Gary P. Naftalis, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta, said it was “highly likely” that Mr. Gupta would testify in his own defense next week.

Mr. Naftalis spent much of Friday cross-examining Mr. Blankfein to try to show that some of the information Mr. Gupta is accused of leaking was known by the market and thus not “material nonpublic information” under the insider trading laws.

The line between public and private information is critical in the case, and Mr. Naftalis worked hard to try to erase that line. He showed Mr. Blankfein two reports from analysts who followed Goldman during the 2008 financial crisis. The reports, written by analysts at Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer, raise the prospect of Goldman buying a retail bank. Both reports came after meetings with top Goldman officials.

“GS Bank & Trust?” pondered one report. “Don’t rule it out.”

A rationale for putting the reports before the jury was to minimize damage from the only phone conversation between the two recorded by a Federal Bureau of Investigation wiretap. During that call, in July 2008, Mr. Gupta tells Mr. Rajaratnam that Goldman’s board is considering buying a bank.

A jury convicted Mr. Rajaratnam, who ran the now-defunct Galleon Group hedge fund, of orchestrating an extensive insider trading conspiracy last year.

At times, Mr. Naftalis and Mr. Blankfein often seemed to fight for the jury’s affection. While Mr. Blankfein was being presented with a batch of news pieces about Goldman’s possible purchase of a bank, an article flashed on the overhead screen with a photograph of Mr. Blankfein resting his face on his left hand. This prompted laughter from the jury and spectators.

Mr. Blankfein, seizing the moment, mimicked the pose from the witness stand, leading to more cackling in the courtroom.

Comparing Mr. Blankfein’s pose against the photograph, Mr. Naftalis instructed the chief executive to move his hand “down and a little to the left.”

As he left the courtroom, Mr. Blankfein acknowledged the jury with a nod and a smile.

Before resting their case on Friday, prosecutors played several secretly recorded short voice mail messages left by Mr. Gupta on Mr. Rajaratnam’s cellphone. During one on Oct. 10, 2008, a time of market turmoil during the financial crisis, Mr. Gupta says: “Hey Raj, Rajat here. Just calling to catch up. I know it must be an awful and busy week. I hope you are holding up well. Uh, and I’ll try to give you a call over the weekend just to catch up. All the best to you, talk to you soon. Bye bye.”

Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have said that by October 2008, Mr. Gupta had lost his entire $10 million in a Galleon fund and had a falling-out with Mr. Rajaratnam and thus had no interest in passing along insider tips. The friendly tone of the voice mail message was the prosecution’s effort to debunk that theory. Reed Brodsky, a prosecutor, rested the government’s case after playing the recordings.

For the last 45 minutes of the day, the jury watched the defense’s videotaped deposition of Ajit Jain, a top lieutenant at Berkshire Hathaway and a top contender to succeed Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive.

Mr. Jain, a friend of Mr. Gupta’s, testified about the acrimony that had developed between Mr. Gupta and Mr. Rajaratnam. He said that during a lunch in January 2009 at an Italian restaurant in Stamford, Conn., Mr. Gupta told him about the bad blood.

“He told me that he had $10 million invested and he had been gypped, swindled and cheated by Raj and had lost his $10 million.””

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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.


An aggressive, all-out defense

June 6, 2012

ESPN on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“By Lester Munson

WASHINGTON — It would be easy for Roger Clemens and his legal team to poke a few holes in the evidence against him and then argue to the jury that federal prosecutors have failed to meet the Constitution’s requirement of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If they managed to convince one or two jurors, they could hope for a deadlock in the jury’s deliberations and a mistrial and a technical victory.

That is not what they are doing. As they presented their 14th witness on Tuesday, they were in the middle of a massive effort that seeks nothing less than the total destruction of the government’s effort and a not-guilty-on-all-counts verdict that will vindicate Clemens and begin to restore his legacy as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers.

It’s a highly unusual strategy. There was enough doubt about the government’s evidence after the four-day cross-examination of the prosecutors’ star witness, Brian McNamee, that many defense lawyers would have concluded their efforts and relied on the jury to find the necessary “reasonable doubt.” McNamee confessed to numerous lies, mistakes and exaggerations, the kinds of admissions that most defense lawyers agree are enough to persuade one or more dubious jurors to hold out for a not guilty verdict.

But lead Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin’s cross-examination of McNamee was only the beginning, not the end, of the defense effort.

Relying on a high school teammate, retired ballplayers, expert witnesses, a housekeeper, two masseuses, a broadcaster, and even an FBI agent, Hardin is offering answers to every element of the government’s charges against Clemens. And there is more to come. Hardin says he’ll finish his presentation of as many as 21 witnesses on Friday, and when he is done, it promises be an impressive accumulation of evidence.

Here’s a look at how the Clemens lawyers have responded so far to the government’s charges that Clemens lied to Congress when he denied that he had ever used steroids or HGH.

At the center of the government’s case is a trove of syringes, cotton balls, vials, and ampoules that McNamee claims he used to inject Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee gathered the physical evidence after injecting Clemens in August 2001, stored it in a beer can and a FedEx box in his house, and finally turned it in to the government in January 2008. The prosecutors used an FBI expert and a forensic scientist from a private lab to show that Clemens’ DNA was present on some of the materials.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Goldberger, a Ph.D. forensic toxicologist who is the founder and director of a lab at the University of Florida, explained to the jury that the physical evidence did not meet the standards that apply to the collection and preservation of physical evidence.

Goldberger’s testimony came after a vigorous and extended argument from Asst. U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler, who insisted to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that Goldberger was not qualified to offer expertise on the collection of evidence and was qualified only to examine substances (blood, urine, drugs) in his laboratory. Clearly impressed with Goldberger and his knowledge of evidence collection, Walton allowed Hardin to present the expert to the jury.

Commingling the cotton balls, the syringes, and the other materials in what may have been a damp beer can, Goldberger said, leads to the possibility of “cross-contamination” and precludes the connection of any of the materials to anyone.

Speaking calmly and persuasively in what was the most powerful testimony in the entire trial, Goldberger told the jury that “the possibility of contamination leads to unreliable laboratory conclusions” and “there must be certainty beyond a reasonable doubt before we can make the scientific connection” between the material and an individual.

In the course of Goldberger’s testimony, the language of the trial was transformed with words like “manipulation” and “fabrication” and “garbage” suddenly being used in connection with materials the prosecutors had described as “medical waste.”

Goldberger told the jury that the material was doubly suspicious because it had been “collected and preserved by the accuser.” Hardin was soon referring to McNamee as the “accuser-collector.”

Butler’s cross-examination of Goldberger did not help as he quarreled with Goldberger about his qualifications and picked at him with questions about the “back story” of a piece of evidence. Butler succeeded only in allowing Hardin to come back with a question that prompted Goldberger to conclude that the physical evidence was the worst Goldberger had seen in 30 years of working with trial evidence.

On another central issue in the trial, Hardin has managed to suggest something that seemed totally unlikely ballplayers’ use injections of Vitamin B12 the way most of us use aspirin or Tylenol. Clemens, in what once seemed to be a weak response to allegations that he had been injected with steroids, claimed that the injections were B12.

Former pitcher Mike Boddicker told the jury that B12 injections were common during his 13 years in the big leagues and that he once walked into the Boston Red Sox training room and was surprised to see Clemens with his pants down being injected in the buttocks with B12. Boddicker, another charming and engaging witness for the defense, told the jury that he could see “B12” on the vial on the training table.

Like the other MLB players that Hardin and Clemens have presented, Boddicker seemed to capture the attention of the jury with his stories that he survived in the big leagues for 13 years with an 84-mph fastball and that he was once traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Red Sox for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling.

Prosecutor Steven Durham tried to cross-examine Boddicker by raising the well-known, unwritten law of an MLB clubhouse that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. It was supposed to show that Boddicker would skew his testimony to help Clemens. But, instead, it opened the door for Hardin to return with Boddicker’s report that Clemens would frequently leave the clubhouse in uniform to visit children in Boston hospitals and that he insisted that his teammates tell no one, especially media, about it.

The enormous Clemens-Hardin effort clearly has the prosecutors scrambling. In his attempt to prepare for Goldberger’s testimony, Butler was on the phone with Goldberger on Tuesday morning, only hours before Goldberger appeared before the jury. To prepare for Boddicker’s testimony, the prosecutors sent an FBI agent to interview him on Sunday before his Tuesday appearance.

The defense strategy is proactive, and it is aggressive. It fits what we know of the Clemens way of doing things. It’s working now, but as another great ballplayer said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.””

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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.


Edwards Verdict Shows Clemens Need Not Fear Taint Of Reputation

June 4, 2012

Bloomberg on June 3, 2012 released the following:

“By David Glovin

Jurors tend to look past a criminal defendant’s reputation, no matter how odious, to render verdicts based on fact and law, lawyers said after former presidential candidate John Edwards won an acquittal and mistrial last week.

Federal jurors in Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 31 acquitted Edwards of one charge of using illegal campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair and couldn’t decide about five other counts. They did so after hearing evidence that Edwards cheated on his dying wife and lied to the public about fathering a child with his paramour.

The verdict sends an encouraging signal to Roger Clemens, the former Major League Baseball pitcher now on trial in Washington for lying to Congress about his use of steroids, said Douglas Godfrey, a professor who teaches criminal law at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“While we would all acknowledge that Edwards and Clemens are not nice guys and they behaved in very bad ways, that’s not the same as violating the law,” Godfrey said in a telephone interview. “Just because you’re an arrogant SOB or philanderer, that’s not the same as committing a crime.”

Edwards’s acquittal and mistrial came 11 months after a Florida jury acquitted Casey Anthony, an Orlando mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, and 22 years after a New York City jury rendered a not guilty verdict in the racketeering case of Imelda Marcos, the former Philippines first lady ridiculed for owning more than 1,000 pair of shoes. In those cases and others, public opinion had turned so harshly against the defendants that a conviction seemed almost an afterthought.

Then the jury weighed in.

Jury Speaks

“It’s a great affirmation of our jury system that people like Casey Anthony and John Edwards, who are personally unlikable and in many ways despicable, can still sit in front of a jury of 12 people and have those 12 people judge them based on the evidence,” said Marc Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor who is now in private practice at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP.

Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator from North Carolina and presidential contender in 2008, was accused of violating campaign finance laws by accepting almost $1 million from multimillionaire heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron, a now-deceased trial attorney, to conceal an affair. The case marked the first time the government prosecuted someone for campaign violations when money was paid to a third party.

Jurors deliberated for nine days before reaching their partial verdict. They couldn’t agree on counts that included a claim that Edwards conspired to protect his candidacy by secretly soliciting and accepting the funds and causing his campaign to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission.

He’s unlikely to be retried, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

Adultery, Arrogance

Except for the defendants’ notoriety — Edwards for adultery and Clemens for arrogance — the two cases have few similarities, said Stefan Passantino, who heads the political law team at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Washington. Lying to Congress, which Clemens is accused of, is a far more established crime than the conduct for which Edwards was on trial, he said.

Still, both defendants have had to confront the prospect that jurors would convict because of their reputations. The Edwards jury didn’t, in part because defense lawyers shifted the focus to ex-campaign aide Andrew Young, who acted as a go- between on transactions involving Mellon and Baron and used some of their money to build his own $1.5 million home.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell also addressed the character issue head-on.

‘Moral Wrongs’

“John Edwards may have committed many moral wrongs but he did not commit a legal one,” Lowell told jurors during his closing argument. “He was a bad husband and lied to his family but there is not a remote chance that he violated campaign finance laws or committed a felony.”

Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor who is now at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles, said jurors were attentive enough to the case’s nuances to see past Edwards’s reputation.

“Perceptions about personalities don’t govern verdicts,” he said. “In Edwards, personality didn’t rule.”

While Clemens is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner as the best pitcher in his league, he also ranks 14th in Major League Baseball for hitting 159 batters with pitches during his career.

Hurled Bat

Lawyers for Clemens, whose reputation for abrasiveness grew after he hurled a bat at an opposing player and because of his performance before Congress, have been taking a page from Edwards’s book. The ex-pitcher’s defense has been focused on tearing down the credibility of the government’s only eyewitness, Brian McNamee, Clemens’s former trainer.

McNamee testified he gave Clemens injections of steroids and human-growth hormone.

Clemens’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, got McNamee to admit he’d lied to federal investigators and accused him of alcohol abuse and engaging in a fraudulent scheme to obtain diet pills.

“The facts are very different, the personalities are different,” Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a partner with McCarter & English LLP in Newark, New Jersey, said of the Clemens and Edwards cases.

‘Positive Message’

“But if there’s any positive message that Clemens can draw out of the Edwards verdict, it’s that jurors will look beyond whatever antipathy they may feel regarding their personal conduct and do their best to make a decision based solely on the facts and law presented to them at the trial,” Mintz said in a telephone interview.

Jacob Frenkel, a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer who is now with Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker PA in Potomac, Maryland, said it’s proven lying, and not reputation, that puts many celebrity defendants behind bars. He pointed to Martha Stewart, who was sentenced to six months in prison in 2004 for obstructing justice by lying to prosecutors, and baseball player Barry Bonds, the career home-run record-holder who was convicted last year of obstructing justice for deceiving a grand jury.

Clemens is accused of obstructing justice and perjury.

“It is the acts of lying or obstruction that often are the downfall,” Frankel said in a telephone interview.

It’s not only Clemens who may take comfort in the Edwards verdict, said Michael Kendall, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Boston and a former federal prosecutor. In New York, Rajat Gupta, who was once a director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and who ran McKinsey & Co. from 1994 to 2003, is defending against charges that he leaked inside information to hedge fund co-founder Raj Rajaratnam.

Public Hostility

If Edwards could win an acquittal, so might Gupta, even amid public hostility to bankers and Wall Street in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis, he said.

“There are a thousand ways to derail a prosecution,” Kendall said in a telephone interview. “There’s an incredible common sense in collective good judgment in the jury system.”

The Edwards case is U.S. v. Edwards, 11-cr-161, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro). The Clemens case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington). The Gupta case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).”

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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 not guilty of illegal campaign contributions; mistrial on other charges

May 31, 2012

CNN on May 31, 2012 released the following:

“[Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET] The judge in the John Edwards trial has declared a mistrial on all counts except for the one on which the jury found the former presidential candidate not guilty, CNN producers in the courtroom said Thursday.

[Updated at 4:24 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has found the former presidential candidate not guilty on count three of accepting illegal campaign contributions from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in 2008.

The jury said it was deadlocked on the other charges.

That was the sole count the jury had earlier that they had reached a unanimous verdict on. The jury was still deadlocked on the other charges.

The Justice Department will now have to decide whether to try him again on the other charges.

[Updated at 3:08 p.m. ET] The judge in former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards’ federal corruption trial has ordered jurors to continue deliberations after they announced they had reached a verdict on only one of six counts.

The judge will soon issue an “Allen charge,” which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] The prosecution has asked for the jury to go back in the jury room to deliberate. The defense has asked for a mistrial on the remaining counts.

The judge is taking a five minute recess on the matter. The judge has the option to issue an “Allen charge,” which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

What are the charges against John Edwards?

[Posted at 2:53 p.m. ET] The jury in the John Edwards trial has only reached a unanimous decision on one charge against John Edwards.

The group of jurors said that as of this moment they could only agree on the charge of illegal campaign contributions from Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. We do not know which way the jury decided on that count.

Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator and presidential candidate, was charged with accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiring to receive and conceal the contributions. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Everything you need to know about John Edwards

Jurors last week asked to review all the exhibits, indicating they were in it for the long haul.

Prosecutors said Edwards “knowingly and willingly” accepted almost $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide former mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy, then concealed the donations by filing false and misleading campaign disclosure reports.

Defense attorneys argued that Edwards was guilty of nothing but being a bad husband to his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 2010. They also argued that former Edwards aide Andrew Young used the money for his own gain and to pay for Hunter’s medical expenses to hide the affair from Edwards’ wife.

Neither Edwards nor Hunter testified during the trial. The affair occurred as Edwards was gearing up for a second White House bid in 2008, and he knew his political ambitions depended on keeping his affair with Hunter a secret, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon told jurors in closing arguments.

Prosecutors argued that Edwards knowingly violated campaign finance laws by accepting the large contributions from Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron that went to support Hunter. Edwards “knew these rules well,” Higdon said, and should have known that the contributions violated campaign finance laws.

Edwards accepted $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron, prosecutors said. The money was used to pay for Hunter’s living and medical expenses, travel and other costs to keep her out of sight while Edwards made his White House run, prosecutors say.”

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

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

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

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