“High-profile cases show a pattern of misuse of prosecutorial powers”

September 23, 2013

The Washington Times on September 22, 2013 released the following:

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro

“It’s hard to imagine the U.S. as a place where citizens have to fear overzealous prosecution, but last week’s reversals in the cases of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and five New Orleans police officers are part of a troubling pattern reminiscent of the Soviet criminal justice system — a system in which the state is always right, even when it is wrong.

In both cases, the judges who overturned the original trial-court verdicts cited instances of prosecutorial overzealousness and abuse of power, making the two cases the latest high-profile trials to run aground on the basis of misconduct by the state’s attorneys.

The high-profile cases in recent years run the gamut from the ancient offenses of murder and rape to increasingly esoteric details of campaign finance and contractor law.

In 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was charged by federal prosecutors with failing to report gifts. During the campaign season, Barack Obama said Stevens needed to resign “to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling in Washington,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, moved to have Stevens expelled.

Stevens lost the election, but three months later, FBI agents accused prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence that could have resulted in the senator’s acquittal. Newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asked the court to vacate Stevens‘ conviction, but the damage already had been done.

The prosecutors’ misconduct destroyed Stevens‘ reputation and political career and affected the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in favor of Democrats.

Circumstances were not entirely different in the prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was accused by local Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle to influence state elections with corporate money.

Mr. DeLay was convicted in 2010, but the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals overturned his conviction last week, saying the charges were based on “insufficient evidence.” Mr. DeLay called the indictment “an outrageous criminalization of politics,” but again, a Republican had been run out of politics. Mr. DeLay said he would “probably not” run for political office again.

Washington lobbyist and power broker Jack Abramoff is not as sympathetic a figure as Stevens or Mr. DeLay, but some reports indicate that the Justice Department intimidated Mr. Abramoff into a confession, and his case also revealed how the “honest services fraud” law gives federal prosecutors almost unchallengeable power.

Technically, the law lets prosecutors charge people when they “deprive another of honest services,” but it has been used as a catchall charge when the state is looking to secure an indictment from a grand jury but has exhausted all other options.

The U.S. Supreme Court eventually had to narrow the statutory meaning of the honest services fraud law, enacted in 1988, to avoid striking it down for unconstitutional vagueness.

William L. Anderson, an economics professor at Frostburg State University, once wrote of the law, “Have you ever taken a longer lunch break than what you are supposed to do? Have you made a personal phone call at work or done personal business on your employer’s computer? Have you ever had a contract dispute with an employer or client? All of those things can be criminalized by an enterprising federal prosecutor.”

In another case, five police officers were accused of murder in the fatal shootings of two men on a New Orleans bridge amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina.

The officers were white and the victims black, and racial tensions were running high. Federal prosecutors turned to civil rights charges in accusing the officers.

Despite the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy prohibition, federal civil rights statutes enable U.S. prosecutors to pursue felony charges against a defendant in limited instances even if they have been acquitted of underlying state crimes.

Evidence in the New Orleans case was compelling, and the officers were convicted, but U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial last week, saying the government “engaged in a secret public relations campaign” by anonymously making extrajudicial statements against the defendants on a New Orleans news site.

“This case started as one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the law and corruption of the criminal justice system,” he wrote in his order.

“Unfortunately the focus has switched from the accused to the accusers. The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecutor, wherever it should occur in this country.”

The Duke University lacrosse players’ case is one of the most notorious of selective prosecution designed for political gain. North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong made numerous public statements incriminating the team and turning the media against the defendants.

Despite the accuser’s history of falsely reporting incidents and lack of evidence, Mr. Nifong pushed the politically popular case in the midst of his re-election campaign. State officials took over the case, dismissing all charges, taking the unusual step of declaring the defendants innocent — not merely “not guilty” — and Mr. Nifong was ultimately disbarred.

Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said that “you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” The same could be said of how fairly a judicial system prosecutes its accused defendants. Arrogance, not ethics, is emerging as criteria for prosecutorial discretion, and the result is a society based on fear, not freedom.”

————————————————————–

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

————————————————————–

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.


Jared Mitchell Rothenberger Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury Alleging Charges of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Monetary Transactions in Criminally Derived Property, and Bank Fraud

May 10, 2012

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

“Minneapolis Man Indicted for Mortgage Fraud in Connection with Burnsville Condo Project

MINNEAPOLIS— Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 43-year-old Minneapolis man was indicted with allegedly defrauding mortgage lenders out of millions of dollars in connection with the sale of condominiums at Chateau Ridge in Burnsville. Jared Mitchell Rothenberger was specifically charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering, two counts of monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and one count of bank fraud. The indictment combines charges related to Chateau Ridge with those Rothenberger also faces in connection to the Cloud 9 Sky Flats development in Minnetonka. Rothenberger was originally charged in the Cloud 9 case on November 8, 2011.

The most recent indictment alleges that from August 24, 2006 through July 15, 2007, Rothenberger and others conspired to defraud mortgage lenders out of money by finding straw buyers to apply for mortgage loans to purchase units at Chateau Ridge. He and others then allegedly made misrepresentations to the lenders regarding the straw buyers’ financial situation, among other things. In some instances, he also reportedly provided straw buyers with funds for down payments, although his actions were never disclosed to the lenders. Furthermore, Rothenberger allegedly participated in the distribution of mortgage loan proceeds outside of actual property closings, again without informing the lenders. Some of the funds—or kickbacks—distributed in that manner amounted to hidden purchase-price discounts and were allegedly provided to the straw buyers. Kickbacks were also purportedly made to Rothenberger and others involved in the scheme in the form of “facilitator” fees or other bogus charges.

Rothenberger is accused of similar criminal activity in connection with the Cloud 9 Sky Flats condominium development in Minnetonka. That case involves more than 40 Cloud 9 units. In excess of $4.2 million was reportedly transferred to accounts for the purpose of paying kickbacks and otherwise sharing in the proceeds of the fraud scheme.

If convicted, Rothenberger faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, 30 years for bank fraud, 20 years for each count of money laundering and wire fraud, 10 years for each count of monetary transaction involving criminally derived property, and five years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christian S. Wilson and Robert M. Lewis.

This law enforcement action is in part sponsored by the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. It includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.”

US v. Jared Mitchell Rothenberger – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 1343

18 U.S.C. § 1344

18 U.S.C. § 1349

18 U.S.C. § 1956

18 U.S.C. § 1957

————————————————————–

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

————————————————————–

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.


Pedro Espada Jr. seals corruption trial with a dis, scanning tomes while prosecutor throws book at him

April 25, 2012

New York Daily News on April 24, 2012 released the following:

Federal prosecutor Todd Kaminsky slams Espada as a brazen crook who treated his tax-supported health clinic as a personal ‘ATM’

BY JOHN MARZULLI

PEDRO ESPADA JR. kicked back and flipped through a couple of books while a federal prosecutor read him the riot act in closing arguments of his embezzlement trial.

As Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky blasted Espada as an arrogant thief who looted his taxpayer-funded Bronx health clinic, the ex-state senator thumbed through a Bible and “Black Robes White Justice,” a book by Bruce Wright, a controversial judge known for freeing felons.

Espada tuned out as the prosecutor ripped him and son Pedro Gautier Espada for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from their Soundview Health Network for dinners, vacations and personal gifts.

“The defendants used (the clinic) as their ATM,” Kaminsky told the jury in Brookyn Federal Court.

The disgraced pol pooh-poohed the rebukes outside court.

“He (Kaminsky) said all the same things in the grand jury,” Espada said. “He’s young and ambitious and he has a long way to go.”

Over the past six weeks, prosecutors presented credit card statements and receipts showing the Espadas billing the clinic for personal expenses.

The bills included a 95-cent biscotti cookie from Starbucks, a lavish Sunday meal of Oysters Rockefeller at a City Island restaurant and a $20,000 family trip to a resort in Puerto Rico for a health conference.

“Pedro Espada’s attitude was, ‘I own Soundview, I built Soundview, I am Soundview. If I want to take from Soundview, who’s going to stop me?'” Kaminsky said.

The clinic even picked up the tab for thousands of dollars in home improvements for his residence in Mamaroneck, Westchester County.

“It’s astounding Pedro Espada had his whole house remodeled and he didn’t know how it happened,” Kaminsky said. “He wants you to think, ‘Were we part of an Extreme Home Makeover that we didn’t know about?'””

————————————————————–

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 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.


‘Botched’ Federal Criminal Indictment Ends in Acquittal

March 21, 2012

The Gainesville Sun March 20, 2012 released the following:

“‘Botched’ indictment ends in local firm’s acquittal

By Jason Geary and Anthony Clark
The Gainesville Sun

A Gainesville-based construction company and its vice president were acquitted on federal charges of bribing a Polk County school official in Tampa on Monday because the grand jury indictment mistakenly referred to the Polk County government and not the Polk County School District.

M.M. Parrish Construction Co. and its vice president, Lloyd Whann, were on trial in Tampa’s federal courthouse for two weeks on charges of bribing Bob Williams, former assistant superintendent of facilities for the Polk County School Board.

Prosecutors accused the company of gaining a competitive edge by bribing Williams with posh hunting and fishing trips, expensive bathroom renovations on Williams’ home and a $2,000 shotgun.

The Gainesville-based company has received more than $100 million worth of work from the Polk County School Board, nearly four times as much work as its nearest competitor.

The defense argued the company got work based on its reputation for high-quality work and had no intent to influence Williams with gifts.

“Witnesses testified one after the other that there was not a better construction company in the state to show they got the work they got because they are the best. That’s the only reason they got it,” said Henry M. Coxe III, the company’s attorney.

Williams still faces punishment because he accepted a plea deal last year. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Whann’s attorney, Larry Turner of Gainesville, said the acquittal was about more than poor verbiage in the indictment. The case was in federal court because the indictment said Polk County received federal funding, but Williams worked for the Polk County School District, a separate government agency. That meant the evidence presented was insufficient, he said.

Turner said there were other problems with the way the indictment was drafted.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara said he has never seen a “botched situation” like this in his 14 years on the federal bench.

Lazzara told Michael Walsh, the company’s president, and Whann that they were not guilty of the charges and were free to leave.

The sudden ending brought both men to tears, and they embraced their lawyers, family and friends.

“I just had to thank God, that’s all I could think was thank you God for bringing us through this,” Walsh told The Sun on Tuesday. “We just appreciate all the love and support that we received from friends and customers and people from all over throughout the whole process.”

While M.M. Parrish Construction and the local real estate firm Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors were founded locally by the Parrish family, the construction company was sold in the early 1980s.”

————————————————————–

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.


As Justice Department investigates shooting of Florida teen, doubts arise about federal charges

March 21, 2012

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

“By Sari Horwitz,

The decision by the Justice Department and the FBI to open an investigation into the slaying of an unarmed black teenager in Florida has spurred internal debate at the agency over whether the federal government could bring criminal charges in the case, which has sparked widespread protest.

Lawyers at the department said Tuesday that while the investigation into the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin would go forward, it would be difficult to prosecute the case under federal law. Civil rights law protects against “hate crimes” or actions by police officers, but Martin’s shooting may not have either of those elements, two officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the probe is still under federal review.

Martin was shot and killed Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who told police he was acting in self-defense. Zimmerman, 28, had called police from his car after he saw Martin walking in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

According to the 911 tapes, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, “this guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something . . . they always get away.” The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow, saying an officer was on the way. Minutes later, Martin was shot in the chest.

No charges have been brought against Zimmerman. Along with the Justice investigation, a local grand jury will consider evidence in the case.

Zimmerman’s family described him as “a Spanish-speaking minority,” and his father released a statement to the Orlando Sentinel saying his son did not target Martin because he was black.

Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said Monday, “I don’t understand why this man has not been arrested . . . let a judge and jury decide if he’s guilty.”

Lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents Martin’s parents, said at a news conference in Florida on Tuesday that the teenager was on a cellphone with his girlfriend in Miami when he told her he was being followed, according to the Associated Press. She said Martin told her that he was trying to get away.

Crump, who did not release the name of Martin’s girlfriend because of privacy concerns, said she heard a scuffle and an altercation before the call was cut off.

Martin had not been using drugs or alcohol and would have had no reason to confront Zimmerman, Crump said in an interview. He had been watching basketball at his father’s girlfriend’s house when he went to a nearby 7-Eleven store for a snack, Crump said.

A bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea were on his body when police arrived.

Rallies have been held across Florida, with students calling for Zimmerman’s arrest, and the Rev. Al Sharpton will hold a national rally Thursday in Sanford.

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, met in Washington on Tuesday with Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett and Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla). Brown urged Perez to prosecute the case as a hate crime.

Stephen A. Saltzburg, a professor at George Washington University Law School, called the case “a difficult one for the Justice Department.”

“This may be somebody who is racially biased, but from the 911 calls, it looks as though, however misguided this guy was, he thought that Trayvon was involved in some kind of suspicious activity,” Saltzburg said. “Race may play a role, but I just think it will be hard to bring this as a federal hate crime, given the limited reach of federal hate-crimes law.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa issued a statement late Monday saying that in civil rights crimes, the government “must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney offered condolences to the Martin family but said the White House was “not going to wade into a local law enforcement matter.””

————————————————————–

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 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.


U.S. presents evidence to grand jury in Avon case: report

February 13, 2012

Reuters on February 13, 2012 released the following:

“(Reuters) – Federal prosecutors have presented evidence to a grand jury against U.S. executives of cosmetics company Avon Products (AVP.N), in a case that probes whether those executives broke foreign bribery laws, the Wall Street Journal said.

In 2008, Avon said that it had started an internal investigation into whether it had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S.-linked companies from paying bribes to officials of foreign governments.

U.S. authorities are studying a 2005 internal audit report by the company that concluded Avon employees in China may have been bribing officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Journal said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The federal authorities are probing whether current or former executives ignored the audit’s findings or actively took steps to conceal the problems, both potential offences, the newspaper said.

“We’re not aware that a federal grand jury is investigating this,” an Avon spokeswoman told the Journal.

She declined to confirm to the paper whether there had been an audit in 2005 and declined to discuss how executives handled any such audit.

Avon could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

In January, Avon’s former CFO Charles Cramb left the company amidst a probe initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)”

————————————————————–

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 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.


Houston Man Charged with Sex Trafficking

October 7, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 6, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON— A federal grand jury has charged 30-year-old Jerald Bland, aka “Moe Betta,” with sex trafficking of two minors and one adult, as well as transporting one adult and one minor for the purposes of prostitution, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

The five-count indictment returned by the grand jury today, alleges that beginning in March 2010 through June 2010, Bland used force, fraud, or coercion to cause two minors and one adult female to engage in commercial sex acts. Bland is also accused of transporting one minor and one adult female from Texas to Louisiana to engage in prostitution in violation of federal statutes.

The United States has sought a court order to transfer Bland from state custody into federal custody to face the charges and appear for arraignment on a date to be set by the court.

Each of the three counts accusing Bland of sex trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 upon conviction. Depending on whether a jury were to find that the victims were minors or that he used force, fraud, or coercion, Bland would face minimum mandatory sentences of 10 to 15 years on the sex trafficking charges. The transportation charge relating to the adult victim carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The transportation of a minor charge carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison with a maximum of life in prison. Each of those charges also carries a $250,000 fine. If convicted, upon release from any prison sentence Bland would be subject to at least five years of supervised release in which the court would require the defendant conform to certain requirements based on the nature of the charges. The defendant could be on supervised release for life, and if convicted, the defendant would have to register as a sex offender.

This investigation leading to the federal charges was conducted by the Houston FBI Innocence Lost Task Force in conjunction with Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty by due process of law.”

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.

Bookmark and Share