John Edwards again asks for acquittal

June 13, 2012

ABC News Local on June 13, 2012 released the following:

“CHAPEL HILL — John Edwards once again asked a federal judge Tuesday to acquit him of all criminal charges stemming from his recent trial.

A jury acquitted the former Democratic presidential candidate on one felony count of receiving illegal campaign contributions, but deadlocked on the remaining five counts. Federal officials are weighing whether to retry Edwards on the five unresolved charges.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles ordered new briefs on whether two of the charges should be tried in a different federal court and whether prosecutors played an improper role in a civil lawsuit over ownership of a sex tape of Edwards and his mistress.

In new filing obtained Tuesday by ABC11, Edwards’ defense tells the judge that prosecutors got the venue wrong when they charged Edwards with accepting illegal campaign contributions from his wealthy friend Fred Baron in 2007 and 2008. It contends the only money linked to North Carolina was a chartered flight out of RDU that Baron paid for.

That’s technically Wake County, in the Eastern District of North Carolina – not the Middle District where he’s charged.

But, it’s a phone call Edwards made to his former aide Andrew Young that has prosecutors sticking to the charges. They say that in that call Edwards told Young to contact Baron to arrange that RDU flight in for his then-pregnant mistress.

If the judge sides with the defense, two of the charges would have to either be dismissed or tried elsewhere. The prosecution has until next week to respond.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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

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

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


John Edwards’ lawyers: $1M used to hide mistress wasn’t campaign contribution; FEC agreed

May 14, 2012

The Washington Post on May 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

GREENSBORO, N.C. — After weeks of testimony about John Edwards’ illicit affair and the money used to cover it up, his defense attorneys opened their case Monday by digging into the details of federal campaign finance law.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. He is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Defense attorneys are attacking the foundation of the prosecution’s argument that the money should be considered an illegal campaign contribution intended to influence the outcome of an election.

But even the federal government was split on that, the defense argues: The Federal Election Commission previously decided that the money was not a campaign contribution. In court Monday, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice called that decision irrelevant to their criminal case and argued against the jury being able to hear about it.

The first witness called by the defense was Lora Haggard, who was in charge of campaign finance compliance for Edwards. In 2008, she was chief financial officer of the John Edwards for President committee.

She testified that the money from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and campaign finance chairman Fred Baron has still never been reported on the campaign’s required disclosure reports, because even after Edwards was charged FEC auditors said it didn’t need to be.

She also said Edwards was never involved in formulating, filling out or filing campaign finance reports that were sent to the FEC. In the sixth count of his indictment, Edwards is accused of causing his campaign to file a false report through deceit.

“We never gave him a report to review,” Haggard said. “He had no input.”

The defense had intended to call former FEC chairman Scott Thomas as their first witness Monday morning, but prosecutors objected to his potential expert testimony on the FEC’s decision about the money. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles scheduled a hearing for later in the day over whether to limit Thomas’ testimony.

The defense opened its case Monday after the judge refused to dismiss the charges on Friday after 14 days of prosecution testimony.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday by playing a tape of a 2008 national television interview in which the Democrat repeatedly lied about his extramarital affair and denied fathering his mistress’ baby. Earlier testimony from a parade of former aides and advisers also showed an unappealing side of Edwards, casting him as a liar and lousy husband.

The defense has not yet indicted whether Edwards or his mistress, Rielle Hunter, will take the stand.

Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. But his testimony would expose himself to a likely withering cross-examination about his many past lies and personal failings.

Edwards pollster and friend Harrison Hickman took the witness stand shortly before the lunch recess Monday. Ex-Edwards defense lawyer Wade Smith may also be called Monday afternoon.”

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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 Judge refuses to dismiss John Edwards charges

May 11, 2012

USA Today on May 11, 2012 released the following:

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

Lawyers for Edwards argued before U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles that prosecutors failed to prove Edwards intentionally violated the law.

After two-and-a-half hours of arguments from prosecutors and the defense, the judge ruled immediately from the bench that there was enough evidence to let jurors decide.

Motions to dismiss are routine in criminal trials, but rarely granted. The decision means Edwards’ lawyers will begin calling witnesses Monday.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. He is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

After 14 days of testimony and evidence presented by prosecutors, legal observers in the North Carolina courtroom said the government’s case was weak.

“They have established their case enough to get to a jury, but it has holes in it,” said Kieran J. Shanahan, a Raleigh defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. “He is not charged with being a liar and he is not charged with having a baby out of wedlock. He is charged with breaking campaign finance laws.”

To prove guilt, prosecutors must show that Edwards not only knew about the money used in the cover-up orchestrated by two members of his campaign, which he denies, but also that the former trial lawyer knew he was violating the law.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday by playing a tape of a 2008 national television interview in which the Democrat repeatedly lied about his extramarital affair with the woman, Rielle Hunter, and denied fathering her baby. Earlier testimony from a parade of former aides and advisors also showed an unappealing side of Edwards, casting him as a liar and lousy husband.

“It is rare the jury gets to see the defendant talking about the main issues of a case in a televised videotape, especially with the defendant watching himself talking about the issues in the videotape,” said Steven Friedland, a former prosecutor and professor as Elon University School of Law. “The defense must somehow counteract that lasting impression.”

A key question is whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.

Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. However, in doing so Edwards would also expose himself to what would likely be a withering cross-examination about his many past lies and personal failings.

The defense could also call Hunter to the stand, which prosecutors declined to do. She could potentially echo Edwards’ position that he didn’t have direct knowledge of the secret effort to care for her and keep her out of the public eye.

However, Friedland said he’d be surprised to see the mistress take the stand.

“She will simply call more attention to the lies surrounding her affair and pregnancy,” he 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

————————————————————–

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 gambles on NC jury to avoid prison

April 11, 2012

Associated Press on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As a young personal injury lawyer in North Carolina, John Edwards earned a reputation for turning down multimillion-dollar settlement offers on bets that jurors would award his clients more money at the end of a trial.

“The twelve souls who spend full days, full weeks, or sometimes long months sitting only a few feet from you get to know you almost as well as you know yourself,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials,” his 2003 autobiography. “They take in every movement, fact, word, hesitation, and glance. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people took root in the mill towns of my youth. But the juries of my adulthood deepened that faith.”

Now the former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate is making the biggest courtroom gamble of his life — that a jury will clear him of alleged campaign finance violations and keep him from being sent to prison.

Jury selection for Edwards’ criminal trial is set to begin Thursday in the Middle District of North Carolina. The sprawling 24-county federal judicial district includes the town where he grew up, Robbins, as well as dozens of other small communities where old textile mills now sit idle but evangelical churches are routinely full.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles, who was appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, will preside. She said she expects the proceedings to last about six weeks.

Edwards, who declined an interview request through his lawyers, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million secretly provided by wealthy campaign donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.

Before his indictment, Edwards rejected a potential plea agreement with federal prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve as little as six months and keep his law license, according to two people with direct knowledge of the offer. More than a year after his wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer, Edwards is now a single parent of two children, ages 13 and 11, who live with their father at the family’s gated estate outside Chapel Hill. Eldest daughter Cate Edwards, 30, is a lawyer who married last year.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, John Edwards made his fortune handling medical malpractice and corporate negligence cases before turning to politics following the death of his 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 auto accident. Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. His law license has been listed as inactive for more than a decade.

For his part, Edwards has said he is looking forward to getting back in front of a jury, even though he’ll be the one at the defense table.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court and people get to hear my side of this, and what actually happened,” Edwards said on the steps of the federal courthouse in Greensboro following a pretrial hearing in October. “And what I know with complete and absolute certainty is I didn’t violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws.”

Regardless of the outcome, the coming trial in USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards is sure to set legal precedents for what constitutes a campaign donation under federal law.

A key issue will be whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, an heiress and socialite who is now 101 years old. Both had already given Edwards’ campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels and Hunter’s medical care. Prosecutors will seek to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a “family man” and keep his presidential hopes viable.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment about likely trial issues. But hundreds of pages of pre-trial motions and hours of oral arguments in recent months offer insights into their likely strategies.

Abbe Lowell, Edwards’ lead lawyer, contends that even had Edwards known about the secret payments, his actions wouldn’t amount to a crime under federal law because his motivation was keeping his wife from learning of the affair, not influencing the outcome of an election. Lowell has said in court that the government’s case relies on flawed legal reasoning, that the grand jury process was tainted and that the Republican federal prosecutor who led the investigation, now-congressional candidate George Holding, was motivated by partisanship.

Lowell has derided what he calls the government’s “crazy” interpretation of federal law whereby money that was never handled by the candidate nor deposited in a campaign account is being defined as campaign contributions.

The Federal Election Commission reviewed Edwards’ case and declined to seek charges or issue a fine. The defense is likely to call two former FEC commissioners as expert witnesses.

Edwards’ legal position is also supported in a court brief filed by the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a campaign finance watchdog group.

“In the United States, we don’t prosecute people for being loathsome, we prosecute them for violating the law,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said this week. “The real reason for these payments is obvious: To prevent Mr. Edwards’ cancer-stricken wife from finding out about the affair. This makes him despicable, but not a criminal.”

Much of the money at issue was funneled to Andrew Young, a former campaign aide once so close to Edwards that Andrews initially claimed paternity of his boss’s illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate’s extramarital affair.

Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, “The Politician.” Young and Hunter recently ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.

Young is expected to be a witness for the prosecution, while the defense is likely to call Hunter to testify. Two of the lawyers who represented Hunter in her civil suit against the former aide joined Edwards’ legal team last month. After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.

It has not yet been decided whether Edwards, who was once known for his ability to charm jurors, will testify in his own defense.

But if he does take the witness stand, the case could hinge on which admitted liar the jury chooses to believe — Edwards, who appeared on national television to deny having an affair with Hunter and fathering her child, or Young, who claimed in a written statement that the baby was his.

“Juries seek the truth, and even as a (law) clerk I learned that neither silver-tongued cunning nor hapless bungling will find it for them,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials.” ”So the best lawyer must be honest and in a way plain in answering any doubts or confusions, and you must know the facts — all of them — for otherwise the jury will lose faith in you. As it should.””

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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 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.