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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Makes Public Corruption Easier

Supreme Court ruling raises bar for corruption, fraud prosecutions
The Washington Post by Spencer S. Hsu - July 18, 2010

A Supreme Court ruling last month that gutted an anti-corruption tool favored by federal prosecutors is jeopardizing high-profile investigations into politicians and business executives, including several related to convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to legal experts and new court filings. Since the June 24 decision, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle in Washington has delayed sentencing for one close Abramoff associate, Michael Scanlon, and ordered the government to explain why the court should not dismiss several charges against another, Kevin Ring. Legal experts predict a flood of similar litigation by defense lawyers based on the Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled unanimously that a 1988 federal statute that makes it a crime to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services" is unconstitutionally vague. The justices limited the law's application to bribes and kickbacks, which several former prosecutors say will make corruption convictions against members of Congress more difficult. "I am worried about whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain an indictment with the new definition of bribery/materiality," Huvelle told lawyers at a July 6 hearing in advance of Ring's trial, scheduled for next month. She asked both sides to file briefs assessing the recent decision. In their June decision, the justices directed lower courts to reconsider the honest-services fraud convictions of former Enron executive Jeffrey K. Skilling, another business leader and a former state lawmaker. Elsewhere, attorneys for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D) moved unsuccessfully to delay his trial in Chicago, where he faces charges of honest-services fraud, racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy. Attorneys for former U.S. representative William J. Jefferson (D-La.) may raise the matter in the appeal of his 2009 conviction and 13-year prison sentence for crimes including soliciting bribes, money laundering and racketeering.

"We don't know how many cases may be affected, but this is one of the most-used tools in public corruption investigations," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Public interest groups say Congress should tighten federal corruption laws, citing court decisions since 2007 that narrowed the types of "official actions" that public servants are barred from performing for people who give them money or gifts. Those rulings also require that prosecutors show more specifically that illegal actions were done in return for money. "All these things are combining to really give members of Congress . . . much less to fear from watchdogs than 10 years ago," Sloan said.

Legal experts say the effect of the Skilling decision will vary case by case. Prosecutors increasingly turned to honest-services fraud charges in recent years to target patterns of self-dealing and conflicts of interest by government and corporate officials, even without a direct quid pro quo. Critics said that the law was so vague that it could apply to a government employee skipping work to see a ballgame and that it gave prosecutors too much discretion over whom to charge. Jefferson and Blagojevich may find it hard to benefit from the situation, because their cases include allegations of bribery, and in Blagojevich's case, prosecutors obtained a new indictment with other charges, anticipating the Supreme Court's decision. Abramoff-related cases present some examples of how the high court's decision might be applied. Abramoff is in a halfway house finishing a four-year term after he pleaded guilty to running a wide-ranging fraud and public corruption scheme. The former powerhouse Washington lobbyist admitted dishing out campaign donations, tickets to sporting events, lavish trips and expensive meals to public officials who helped his clients with federal funds, inside information and legislative favors. At least 19 lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and government officials have been convicted. Still under scrutiny is former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Scanlon, a former DeLay aide and public relations executive, is seeking to renegotiate the terms of his 2005 plea deal with prosecutors. Scanlon pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy, and he admitted kicking back to Abramoff half of the exorbitant fees he charged Native American tribes after Abramoff recommended Scanlon's firm to them. Scanlon's attorneys say his agreement to serve up to five years and repay the tribes as much as $20 million was driven by the honest-services law. The government did not oppose delaying his sentencing 60 days, until Oct. 4. But federal prosecutors have said that the high court decision should have no effect on the case against Ring because bribery is a central component. The former lobbyist and congressional aide allegedly helped Abramoff arrange campaign contributions to then-Rep. John T. Doolittle, lied about his knowledge of a lucrative job arranged by lobbyists for Doolittle's wife, Julie, and treated Doolittle's staff to rock concerts, football games and fancy meals. Attorneys for Ring, who have said he is not guilty, argue that the case was grounded in the honest-services law, and they have asked Huvelle to dismiss several counts from his first trial, which ended in a hung jury. The Doolittles say that they are innocent of wrongdoing and that authorities have told them the investigation of them is over. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to estimate how many cases are affected by the court's ruling. Staff researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.


Anonymous said...

I'd a statement from Andrew Cuomo on this. I met him last week whne he kicked off his campaign. (Btw I am not being sarcastic) I would like to know his thoughts on this if he wnats to be governor.

Anonymous said...

"Honest Services." that's the problem for ANY LAWYER or JUDGE. None of them are HONEST! Anyone who ever had any dealings with ANY LAWYER OR JUDGE knows this is TRUE!


Anonymous said...

Blah, Blah what ever happened to the Federal investigation against the rat of Nicolai? I say, it is open season time to go hunting plenty of animals to mount on a wall.

Anonymous said...

"deprive another of the intangible right of honest services" is unconstitutionally vague.

deprive! Chris Lee,CONGRESSMAN, will not even let you file a complaint, the Department of Justice will not let you file complaint, try and call, you get sent to never never land.........


Anonymous said...

Dear Congressman Chris Lee,

Since your office will not let me file a complaint, please note this as an official complaint.

To your lack of knowledge on the issues, we want a Federal Phone number and Monitor for Crimes committed within and about the New York State Court & Police System.

You may finally come to an understanding, that once the first case has been Racketeered, the lying and corruption and setting each other up has to continue,
by the liars/cheats/thieves who did it the first time!

No one, no matter how innocent a person is can correct the wrong,
the Liars Club will set them up, to harm innocents.

We want a Federal Phone Number!

Anonymous said...


Simply put - the reason the Jews are at the top in Law and Medicine in New York City and other major US cities is because they load up and lobby for other Jews to completely and totally dominate those professions' Disciplinary and Licensing Boards (usually around 90% Jewish), and then whenever their fellow Jews get the inevitable Consumer Complaint, no matter how bad or egregious, they always get a free pass.

But if a non-Jew gets the inevitable Consumer Complaint, his ass is nailed to the wall by that Board without any mercy.

Pure and simple, mafia tactics.

The Jews stack the odds and the game in their favor through corruption, fraud, money payoffs, and cronyism, and the end result?

Even the most retarded Jew comes off as successful, free of professional blemishes or financial problems, and appear stable in their chosen fields.

And every other minority who happens not to be lucky enough to be a Jew comes off as nothing but cattle - the Jews have a name for that - it's called "Goyim."

Or "Gentiles."

And guess what?

Neither the FBI, nor the FTC, nor the DOJ gives one flying fuck about any this, and allows all of us non-Jews to be repeatedly anally raped by this White Collar Jewish Mafia in New York, Major US Cities, the United States, and the entire world.

Anonymous said...

As a wealthy Jewish-American myself, you people are all kidding yourselves.

The United States, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DOJ, and the US Supreme Court are all owned by the Jews.

None of you have any real rights or power, and "justice" is only what we decide, and when we decide it.

It helps your situation if you are vocally pro-Israel and pro-Jewish supremacy, however.

No one cares about any of you, your kids, your jobs or families, and your stupid little problems.

Anonymous said...

I understand the rage in the previous two posts, myself having been coerced and robbed by attorneys and judge in the Westchester Supreme Court's version of "justice." --If that's how all courts are run there is no justice. My experience was no different than being surrounded by playground bullies while all of them shouted at me and emptied my pockets.

Liars, cheats and heartless. Not one helped me protect my children from their abusive negligent father. He bought his way through. He walked away with 90 percent of our marital assets.

But I refuse to let that slimey bunch of cheats turn me into an anti-semite. Their moral standards cannot be permitted to undermine mine. Mafia? Yes they are, the lot of them, including the judge with the Irish surname. They are all the worst people I ever met. Precisely what hapoens when greed and power walk around unchecked.

I found NO JUSTICE AT THE WSC. I am surprised that Martin Luther King Jr doesn't shake off his bronze-frozen pose and stalk off in righteous indignation. If only

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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