Jury to reconvene in ex-Senator Edwards’ federal trial

May 21, 2012

Chicago Tribune on May 21, 2012 released the following:

“Colleen Jenkins
Reuters

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) – Jurors were set to resume deliberations on Monday in the federal campaign finance case against former U.S. Senator John Edwards, who is accused of using campaign funds to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the presidency.

A jury of eight men and four women in Greensboro, North Carolina, considered the case for about 5 1/2 hours on Friday before breaking for the weekend.

They must reach a unanimous verdict to convict Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate and the Democrats’ 2004 vice presidential nominee, on any of the six felony counts he faces.

Jurors have nearly four weeks of testimony to weigh as they decide whether Edwards, 58, coordinated a coverup aimed at keeping voters from learning of his extramarital affair while he sought the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Prosecutors said the scheme resulted in more than $900,000 from two supporters to be secretly funneled to Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, and his aide, Andrew Young, who during the campaign falsely declared paternity of the baby Edwards fathered.

The Federal Election Campaign Act states that excess contributions are illegal if they are made for the purpose of influencing an election for federal office.

Edwards’ attorneys acknowledged that the former senator from North Carolina knew about the $2,300 limit on contributions from individuals.

But they argued that the payments from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and trial lawyer Fred Baron were private gifts – not political contributions – made to support Hunter and to prevent Edwards’cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, from learning he had fathered a child with his mistress.

The charges against John Edwards include conspiring to solicit the money, receiving more than the $2,300 allowed from any one donor, and failing to report the payments as contributions.

Each count carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

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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.


Latest in Edwards corruption trial: A news guide

May 12, 2012

The Associated Press on May 12, 2012 released the following:

“RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge refused to throw out campaign corruption charges against John Edwards, so the former presidential hopeful will have to present his case to a jury.

Edwards is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments to help hide his pregnant mistress as he ran for president. He has pleaded not guilty.

Here is a look at the first weeks of the trial, and some highlights of witness testimony:

Q: WHAT EVIDENCE HAS THE PROSECTUTION PRESENTED SO FAR?

A: Prosecutors showed two members of Edwards’ inner circle, campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and fundraiser Andrew Young, engaged in a yearlong cover-up to hide the married presidential candidate’s pregnant mistress from the media as he ran for the White House in 2008. Young, who is married, falsely claimed paternity of his boss’ baby and received $725,000 in secret checks from an elderly heiress, using some of the money to care for the mistress, Rielle Hunter. A wealthy Texas lawyer, Baron provided Young and Hunter $319,500 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Q: TO WHAT EXTENT HAS THE PROSECUTION SUCCESSFULLY MADE THEIR CASE?

A: After years of Edwards saying he had no knowledge of the cover up, prosecutors introduced phone records, voicemails and other evidence showing he was in frequent contact with Baron, Young and Hunter, all while his mistress was in hiding. Former members of Edwards’ campaign also testified that Baron spoke of “moving Hunter around” in the candidate’s presence and that Edwards told his speechwriter he knew “all along” what Baron was up to. However, in 14 days of testimony no witness ever said Edwards knew he was violating campaign finance laws, a key element of criminal intent the government must prove to win a conviction.

Q: WHAT STRATEGY WILL THE DEFENSE USE?

A: Defense lawyers for Edwards have hammered the credibility of Young, the prosecution’s main cooperating witness, showing he fabricated parts of his 2010 tell-all book about the affair and that he siphoned off much of the secret money to build his family’s dream home. Edwards’ lawyers will also call former members of the Federal Election Commission to testify that the scheme to hide the mistress didn’t actually violate campaign finance laws. It’s unknown whether Edwards, a former trial lawyer, will take the stand in his own defense.

Q: IF CONVICTED, WHAT KIND OF JAIL TIME MIGHT EDWARDS FACE?

A: If convicted on all six counts, Edwards faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE MOST DRAMATIC MOMENTS SO FAR?

A: During emotional testimony that saw Edwards’ 30-year-old daughter flee the courtroom in tears, former campaign advisor Christina Reynolds recounted an October 2007 fight at a Raleigh airport where an enraged Elizabeth Edwards confronted her husband about his affair, ripping open her shirt and baring her chest.

Former aide Andrew Young testified that when Edwards learned Hunter was pregnant, his first reaction was to express doubt he was the father and call his mistress a “crazy slut.”

Young also described his climatic last meeting with Edwards in August 2008 on a secluded road near the former senator’s Chapel Hill mansion. Young said Edwards was nervous and acting so paranoid the aide feared his boss had hired men to shoot him.

SOME OF THE KEY QUOTES IN TESTIMONY:

– “You can’t hurt me, Andrew. You can’t hurt me.” – Edwards’ last words to Young, as recounted by the former aide on the witness stand.

– “He said he could be to poverty what Al Gore was to the environment.” – Young recounting Edwards’ plan to solicit a $50 million donation from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon to establish a foundation to combat poverty after his political career collapsed.

– “I’ve never asked anybody to pay a dime of money, never been told that any money’s been paid. Nothing has been done at my request. So if the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money – that is a lie.” – Edwards in the 2008 interview on ABC’s Nightline that was played for the jury at his criminal trial. Evidence presented by prosecutors showed numerous statements made by Edwards during the interview were lies, including his denial of fathering Hunter’s baby.

– “You don’t see me anymore!” – Elizabeth Edwards yelling at her cheating husband as she exposed her breasts, as recounted by Reynolds.

– “She thought maybe you should probably pay for your girlfriend yourself.” – 101-year-old heiress Bunny Mellon’s reaction upon learning some of the $725,000 she secretly provided to help Edwards went to hide his mistress, as recounted by Charlotte interior designer Bryan Huffman.

– “She thought it was a little low.” – Huffman’s reply after a prosecutor asked if Mellon was aware of a federal law that then limited individual political contributions to $2,300 per election cycle.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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

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

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


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

May 10, 2012

Boston Herald on May 10, 2012 released the following:

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

By Anne Blythe and Martha Quillin / McClatchy Newspapers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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

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

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