U.S. prosecutors to seek death penalty in Rhode Island shooting

June 19, 2012

Chicago Tribune on June 18, 2012 released the following:

“June 18, 2012 | Zach Howard | Reuters

(Reuters) – The U.S. federal government will seek the death penalty against a man accused of robbing and killing a gas station manager in Rhode Island if the suspect is convicted of murder at trial, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

The move follows a rare face-off between the state and federal authorities over capital punishment, which was ended in Rhode Island in 1984. The state’s governor has resisted handing the suspect, Jason Pleau, over to federal custody.

Pleau, 34, is accused in the 2010 shooting death of David Main in the small city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, according to the FBI, as Main attempted to make a bank deposit from the gas station he managed.

Pleau was indicted that same year by a federal grand jury for murder, while he was already serving an 18-year sentence in state prison for parole violations. The federal government asked for custody of Pleau under a federal law that governs the transfer of prisoners between states and the U.S. government.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, a political independent, initially resisted, asserting the state’s policy of opposing the death penalty. But a federal appeals court in Boston last month ordered him to hand Pleau over to federal authorities.

Prosecutors filed Monday’s notice of intent to seek the death sentence at U.S. District Court in Providence, specifically on a count charging Pleau with possessing, carrying and discharging a firearm during a crime that caused Main’s death.

Responding to the decision to seek the death penalty, Robert Mann, an attorney for Pleau, told Reuters: “Obviously, we are very disappointed.”

Prosecutors, in the filing, said Pleau had a history of other acts of serious violence, had demonstrated a low rehabilitative potential, and displayed a lack of remorse.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said it was “unusual” for the federal government to pursue a death penalty case in a state opposed to it, especially since the crime does not involve terrorism or another matter of national concern.

“It’s surprising as the state has said it could handle the case and the defendant said he’d plead guilty and get life without parole – it could have been done differently,” said Dieter.

The Boston-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ruled in May that keeping Pleau in state custody shielded him from capital punishment, and would undermine the federal government’s ability to prosecute federal crimes.

A conference on the case’s status was scheduled for Friday at U.S. District Court.

(Additional reporting by Joseph O’Leary; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston; Desking by G Crosse, Andrew Hay)”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

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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.


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.


Robert Blagojevich: Prosecutors were ‘playing chicken with my life’

May 25, 2012

Chicago Tribune on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“By Stacy St. Clair | Tribune reporter

As U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald retires to accolades and well wishes, Robert Blagojevich said today that he’s still fighting to regain his reputation since federal prosecutors dropped charges against him in their sweeping corruption case involving his brother’s administration.

“I am never going to say publicly that I am bitter,” said Blagojevich after giving a speech to the Chicago Bar Association. “I am a citizen who has learned a heck of a civics lesson. It’s very different from the one I learned in school, where I thought the scales of justice were blind when in reality, it’s a David-vs.-Goliath battle.”

Prosecutors dropped charges against Blagojevich in August 2010 shortly after a jury deadlocked on three corruption charges against him. The panel – which also was hung on most counts against his younger brother, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – was split 9-3 in favor of acquitting the elder Blagojevich.

The trial, however, cost Robert Blagojevich nearly $1 million in legal fees, an amount that forced him and his wife, Julie, to borrow heavily against their Nashville home and cash in their retirement accounts.

But more than that, he says, it damaged his character. Decades of building a sterling reputation – first as a career Army officer and then as charity-mind Nashville business man – were destroyed when he was indicted, he said.

“I don’t feel like I’ve been treated fairly,” he said. “Where do I go to get my million dollars back and my reputation back?”

Robert Blagojevich became enmeshed in the case after he ran fundraising for his brother’s campaign fund for the last four months of 2008, a period during which prosecutors used wiretaps to secretly record the former governor as he allegedly tried to sell his power to pick a successor for President Barack Obama as U.S. senator.

At times during testimony, though, Robert Blagojevich often seemed an afterthought.

The older Blagojevich was accused of conspiring with his brother to sell the seat.

The real estate entrepreneur testified in his own defense, portraying himself as an innocent bystander, a political novice and a loyal brother who agreed to oversee the then-governor’s campaign in part because of a promise to his dying mother that he would try to keep close to his brother.

The former governor was convicted at his second trial in 2011. He was sentenced to 14 1/2 years in federal prison.

In a speech before the Chicago Bar Association, Robert Blagojevich outlined several tactics he said Fitzgerald’s office used to give prosecutors the upper hand during the case.

In addition to pressuring him to persuade the governor to accept a plea deal, he said that prosecutors opposed letting him be tried separately from his brother even though 95 percent of the evidence did not pertain to him.

Prosecutors also subpoenaed his tax returns mid-trial in an effort to distract him, Blagojevich said. The federal government also began calling charities that he supported to make sure he had made donations to the groups as he claimed.

“It felt like they were playing chicken with my life, using me as a pawn to ultimately get to my brother,” he said.

Blagojevich would not comment on whether he had visited his brother since he reported to federal prison in Colorado two months ago. He also would not discuss the status of their relationship, though it has been strained since they were both indicted.”

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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.


Roger Clemens trial: Jurors hear Clemens’s denials; defense seeks to admit unflattering accounts of McNamee

May 1, 2012

Washington Post on April 30, 2012 released the following:

“By Ann Marimow
Defense attorneys in the perjury trial of legendary pitcher Roger Clemens attacked the government’s presumptive star witness Monday, saying trainer Brian McNamee’s past contains “more dirt than a pitcher’s mound.”

That line came in a filing from lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin, whose team objected to the prosecution’s efforts to keep out information about McNamee’s troubled background.

Clemens, on trial in the District’s federal court for allegedly lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs during a 2008 hearing, faces up to 30 years in prison. Federal prosecutors want to preclude unflattering and potentially damaging information about McNamee, who is expected to testify that he injected Clemens with steroids on numerous occasions.

They want U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to declare the information “off-limits” to prevent the defense team from asking McNamee about it during his cross-examination.

The defense wants to allow the jury to hear evidence of McNamee’s alleged drug problem, financial struggles, blemished record as a New York City police officer and his involvement in a criminal investigation in Florida. McNamee lied to authorities in a 2001 investigation involving the sexual assault of an unconscious woman at a St. Petersburg hotel.

“There is no question that Mr. McNamee committed obstruction of justice…the very crime the government seeks to convict Mr. Clemens of in this case,” according to Clemens’s lawyers.

In the courtroom Monday, federal prosecutors played recordings of Clemens’s denials in his interview with Congressional staffers and his testimony to Congress while the former All-Star took copious notes on a legal pad.

The defense sought to challenge the legitimacy of the 2008 Congressional hearing that examined whether Clemens had used performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens’s lead lawyer quizzed the committee’s former staff director, Phil Barnett, about whether Clemens appeared voluntarily.

“Putting him up there next to his accuser and trying to let the world decide right or wrong is not a legitimate function of Congress,” Rusty Hardin said in an exchange with Judge Walton out of earshot of jurors. “It was solely to get Roger Clemens.”

Barnett said Congress was trying to reconcile a report by former senator George Mitchell that named Clemens and other ballplayers as steroid users with Clemens’s public denials.

In the taped interview, Clemens was quizzed about his relationship with McNamee, his former strength coach. McNamee told Congress that he injected Clemens on several occasions with steroids, but Clemens said the injections were vitamins.

Clemens was asked in his deposition with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform why McNamee, not a team doctor, was injecting him, and whether the shots could have been tainted with steroids.

“I have no reason to believe he was doing anything harmful,” Clemens said, later describing McNamee as “great.”

Clemens also described in detail his account of the use of human growth hormone known as HGH by his wife, Debbie, who he said was injected by McNamee in the bedroom of the couple’s Houston home. Clemens said he was not at home at the time, and was concerned that McNamee had “drugs on the property.”

Clemens said he rifled through McNamee’s belongings, which the trainer had left behind, but did not find any HGH.

“Deb cried about it; she apologized to me about it,” Clemens said. “It’s embarrassing because she thinks she’s been pulled into a trap.”

Clemens’s account is at odds with McNamee’s story that Clemens was present when McNamee gave his wife the shot.”

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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.


California Woman Indicted on Charges of Allegedly Giving Money to Terrorists

December 22, 2011

CNN on December 22, 2011 released the following:

“By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

(CNN) — A California woman was indicted late Wednesday on charges of sending money to Pakistan to help fund terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel, federal officials said.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma was charged with three counts of giving money to someone in Pakistan who knew the funds would be used to prepare and carry out attacks against American troops, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a statement.

Mihalik, a native of Turkey, was accused of sending $2,050 in three wire transfers to a person in Pakistan over a period of three weeks in late 2010 and early 2011, the statement said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the attorney’s office, would not comment on the identity of the person in Pakistan.

A telephone message left late Wednesday by CNN for Mihalik’s attorney, Alan Eisner, was not immediately returned.

Mihalik has been in U.S. custody since August 27, 2011, after she was detained at Los Angeles International Airport where she was preparing to board a flight to Turkey, the statement said. She had a one-way ticket, it said.

Federal authorities say they first questioned Mihalik on August 8 at the airport where she had just arrived from a six-month trip to Turkey. At that time, they allege she lied to agents, saying she had never used an alias to send money via Western Union to a person overseas, authorities said.

It was unclear how authorities linked Mihalik to the alleged payments, and they did not say how they identified her alleged use of an alias.

Mihalik was initially indicted on August 30 on one count of making a false statement.

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday, charging Mihalik with three counts of providing material support to terrorists and one count of making a false statement.

The charge of providing material support to terrorists carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; the charge of making a false statement in a matter involving international terrorism carries a maximum penalty of eight years.

An arraignment date has not yet been set. A trial on the initial count of making a false statement was previously scheduled for February 14.”

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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 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.


Federal Judge denies Blagojevich request to hear new tapes

November 29, 2011

Associated Press on November 28, 2011 released the following:

“By NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — The federal judge who will sentence Rod Blagojevich had harsh words for the former Illinois governor’s attorneys as he denied a request Monday to play new federal wiretap tapes in court.

Blagojevich was convicted at two separate trials on 18 corruption counts, including allegations he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich will be sentenced next week, and his lawyers last week submitted a list of 180 secret tape recordings the FBI made of the governor and others.

Parts of some recordings were played during his trials, but Blagojevich has long argued that authorities should “play all the tapes.” He says some of the recordings hold evidence demonstrating his innocence.

But Judge James Zagel said Blagojevich’s attorneys hadn’t said what they specifically wanted to prove and what sections of the tapes they wanted to use, echoing complaints made by federal prosecutors.

“What this motion requests is my blind approval of the use of whatever excerpts it decides are relevant to ‘lack of ill intent’ and admissible … at sentencing,” Zagel said. “That request is denied.”

Zagel also derided the timing of Blagojevich’s motion, which was filed Thanksgiving Day. He said the federal courts were closed except for emergencies both Thursday and Friday, and there was no reason for Blagojevich — who was convicted on 17 of 20 counts in June — to wait this long.

He also pointed out that the motion was dated Monday, Nov. 28, even though it was filed Thursday, and that his attorneys did not notify the judge when they filed it.

“This practice is difficult to defend under any circumstances and made more so because of the nature of the motion,” Zagel said.

Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky did not return messages seeking comment. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined to comment.

Blagojevich’s first trial ended deadlocked with jurors agreeing on just one of 24 counts — that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. Jurors at his recent retrial convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts, including bribery and attempted extortion related to his handling of a U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Most legal observers expect the 54-year-old former governor to receive about 10 years in prison, though he technically faces up to 305 years in prison. Both sides are expected to file their suggestions on sentencing this week.

Judges generally frown on felons who continue to maintain their innocence at sentencing, Chicago-based federal defense attorney Gal Pissetzky said last week.

“At sentencing, you need to accept the jury verdict and then fight for your innocence later on appeal,” he said. “If you continue to shove it in the judge’s face by fighting your innocence at sentencing, it takes away from your goal of less time in prison.”

The judge scheduled a Friday hearing on another Blagojevich request related to a government witness, John Wyma. Blagojevich’s attorneys are questioning whether Wyma helped the government “in exchange for a government benefit.” Prosecutors denied that allegation at trial.”

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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.