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Blagojevich: Judge Refuses to Lower Sentence

The re-sentencing for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was held today in Chicago. He appeared by video from the Federal Prison Camp in Englewood where he is serving a 14 year sentence. The resentencing was the result of the appeals court vacating five of the most serious counts against him: the ones that pertained to the alleged "sale" of the Senate seat.

The judge refused to impose a lesser sentence. [More...]

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Supreme Court Vacates Conviction of VA Ex-Gov McDonell

The Supreme Court has vacated the conviction of Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell:

A jury in September 2014 found unanimously that McDonnell used the governor’s office to help Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a wealthy dietary supplement company executive, advance his business interests. In exchange, Williams gave McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, $177,000 in loans, luxury vacations and a Rolex watch.

Four months later, a federal judge sentenced McDonnell to two years in prison... McDonnell argued that simply referring a constituent to another state official was not among the “official actions” that are barred by the federal law.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event, without a more specific action, is not “official action.”


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Supreme Court Hears Ex-Gov. McDonnell Bribery Case

Reuters reports the Supreme Court seems inclined to toss the bribery conviction for former VA Republican Governor Bob McDonnell (short backgrounder from trial here):

During the one-hour argument, several of the eight justices signaled that McDonnell's acceptance of $177,000 in luxury gifts and sweetheart loans from a businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement did not constitute a criminal act.

They voiced concern that the broad interpretation of U.S. anti-corruption law used by federal prosecutors could criminalize numerous commonplace actions by politicians.


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Rod Blagojevich: Appeals Court Tosses Some Counts

It took 17 months for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on former Gov. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's appeal. The decision came down July 21, and the Court threw out a few counts. He will have to be resentenced. Here's the crux of the opinion:

A problem in the way the instructions told the jury to consider the evidence requires us to vacate the convictions on counts that concern Blagojevich’s proposal to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an appointment to
the Cabinet.


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Appeals Court Affirms Conviction of Ex-Gov. McDonnell

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the corruption convictions of Virginia former Governor Robert McDonnell. The opinion is here. McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison and has been free pending appeal. What he did:

Over the course of five weeks of trial, federal prosecutors sought to prove that former Governor of Virginia Robert F. McDonnell (“Appellant”) and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, accepted money and lavish gifts in exchange for efforts to assist a Virginia company in securing state university testing of a dietary supplement the company had developed. The jury found Appellant guilty of eleven counts of corruption and not guilty of two counts of making a false statement.


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Indictments in Chris Christie Bridge Case

William Barone and Bridget Anne Kelly have been indicted in the Chris Christie bridge scandal. The Indictment is here and is quite detailed. It does not appear to implicate Chris Christie.

Barone is the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Kelly is a former deputy chief of staff to Chris Christie. They were charged in nine counts, including conspiracy to commit fraud by “knowingly converting and intentionally misapplying property of an organization receiving federal benefits”. [More...]

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Ex-Gov. McDonnell Sentenced to 2 Years, Gov't. Sought 10-12

Former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison today. Probation recommended, and prosecutors sought a 10 to 12 year sentence, in accordance with the guidelines.

Good lawyering by the defense team. The sentencing guidelines are not mandatory and there is not even a presumption that they represent the correct sentence. They are only the starting point in the judge's consideration, and the judge here appropriately exercised his discretion.

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Jury Convicts VA Ex-Gov McDonnell and Wife

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell were convicted on an array of corruption charges today.

The 7-man, 5-woman jury returned its findings on the third day of deliberations here in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Both McDonnells, who now face years in prison, were acquitted of lesser charges of making false statements on loan applications, while Ms. McDonnell was convicted on a charge she alone faced, of obstructing a grand jury investigation by trying to make a gift of $20,000 worth of designer dresses and shoes appear to have been a loan.

The McDonnells were accused of selling McDonnell's office during a 24 month period to a vitamin salesman named Jonnie R. Williams, Jr., who gave the McDonnells $170,000 in gifts, money and "no document loans." Williams was a chief witness against them, having made a deal with the Government for immunity. His company was the subject of an SEC investigation. [More...]

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Rick Perry Indicted in Texas

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted in Texas on charges of abuse of power.

A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.

Perry's lawyer calls it "partisan theatrics." I wouldn't be surprised if that's true. Shades of Tom DeLay?

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Ex-Nola Mayor Ray Nagin Convicted

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been convicted on 20 of 21 counts of bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns.

A juror said afterward they thought the defense should have put on more evidence to refute the charges.

A recap of events is here.

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Gov. Christie Fires Back at NY Times and Wildstein

Gov. Chris Christie sent this email in response to the media flap caused by a letter written by the lawyer for David Wildstein, the former Port Authority official involved in the lane closure scandal who has been seeking an immunity deal and payment of his legal fees.

I had written a long post with a lot of links on this yesterday but it got eaten by the computer when I accidentally closed the tab before publishing it. I don't have time to rewrite it all, so I'll just say it made many of the same points Christie does about the letter.

The lawyer's letter, which was carefully and ambiguously worded, didn't prove anything, let alone that what Christie said at the news conference was false. Here's the transcript of Christie's Jan. 9 press conference. [More...]

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Ray Nagin Corruption Trial Starts Monday

Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin goes on trial tomorrow on 21 charges of bribery, honest services wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Essentially, he's charged with accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for granting lucrative city contracts,

As is typical in these cases, the Government's witnesses include plenty of wrongdoers singing for their supper.

NOLA.com's live trial coverage page is here.

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7th Circuit Hears Blagojevich Appeal

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Friday in the appeal of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich's attorneys had to be happy that the panel raised questions about the heart of their defense that the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat was political horse-trading and that prosecutors had unfairly made it into a crime.

Does that bode well for Blago? Impossible to know. Predicting how an appeals court will rule is usually a futile exercise.

While Blago could not attend the hearing, his wife Patti did and addressed the media afterwards: [More...]

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Kim DotCom's Lawyer's White Paper on Bogus Charges

Here is Kim Dotcom's lawyers' new White paper on why the charges against him are untenable:

The U.S. government’s case against Megaupload is grounded in a theory of criminal secondary copyright infringement. In other words, the prosecution seeks to hold Megaupload and its executives criminally responsible for alleged infringement by the company’s third-party cloud storage users.

The problem with the theory, however, is that secondary copyright infringement is not – nor has it ever been – a crime in the United States. The federal courts lack any power to criminalize secondary copyright infringement; the U.S. Congress alone has such authority, and it has not done so.


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Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to be Sentenced Today

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gets sentenced today. He's expecting to get hammered with a double digit sentence.

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