Spitzer Lawyers Want No Charges, Not Plea Bargain

Bump and Update: Now we get yet another version of events from the Wall St. Journal.

Shorter version: Forget $80,000. We're down to $19,000. His lawyers are insisting there was no crime, there should be no charges. In other words, no plea bargain. We also get the name of one of the banks that dropped the dime on him: Capital One Corp.'s North Fork unit.

On his gubernatorial financial disclosures, Mr. Spitzer lists North Fork as one of his primary personal banks.

As to the three wire transfers:

[Spitzer]made three payments of roughly $5,000 each through wire transfers in the spring and summer of 2007 from personal bank accounts, according to a person familiar with the matter. The New York governor allegedly paid an additional $4,300 in cash to the ring in connection with an encounter at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, making his total payments to the group more than $19,000.

As to why there may have been no illegality [More...]

At least one suspicious-activity report was filed on the three wire transfers initiated by Mr. Spitzer in 2007, said the people familiar with the transactions. But the transfers don't appear to have explicitly violated banking regulations: Mr. Spitzer didn't disguise his identity, and the three payments of roughly $5,000 each are too small to automatically trigger federal reporting requirements. ...

The Journal notes:

However, Mr. Spitzer could face legal jeopardy if two $5,000 payments were an attempt to divide a single payment of $10,000 or greater, thereby evading the federal threshold for automatic transaction reporting by banks.

His lawyers contend:

... the governor didn't violate federal money-laundering or structuring laws because he didn't hide the transactions, which were in his name and from his bank accounts.

If true, so much for the reports that he used campaign accounts to hide the transactions.

His lawyers argue that it would be unfair to charge Spitzer if the other 9 clients named in the Affidavit for the Complaint aren't also charged.

[Spitzer laywer Michelle] Hirshman -- a former assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan -- also argued that if federal prosecutors brought charges against Mr. Spitzer, they would be required to similarly charge the nine other unnamed clients in a federal complaint unsealed last Thursday, to avoid what's known in legal circles as "selective prosecution." None of the other nine unnamed clients have been charged in the case.

As to who approved the investigation, the Journal says it was U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, making no reference to higher-ups like Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey or anyone at Main Justice.

And in the "it was only a matter of time" department, a Save Spitzer campaign is underway.

Update: Shame on the NY Daily News for this accusation:

Although the cash used to pay for a $4,300 prostitute named "Kristen" apparently came from Spitzer's account, he used taxpayer dollars to fly to and from his .illicit rendezvous.

He was in Washington to attend a Congressional hearing, that's official business. It's not like he just went to have a tryst.

First Updated Post

Spitzer Plea Negotiations, Resignation May Come Tomorrow

Update: Albany Times Union says resignation expected Weds.

Bump and Update: CNN reports plea negotiations are underway and a resignation will occur as soon as they finish them, possibly tomorrow. Spitzer wants a package deal, wrapping up federal and state liability. Jeff Toobin thinks he's holding out for a misdemeanor.

Update: An anonymous federal investigator says Spitzer's total call girl tab may reach $80k. Now there is speculation on tv that Spitzer didn't use his personal account but his campaign account so as to hide the expenses from his family and that's why the public integrity section didn't let it go. White Collar Crime Blog says:

It would not surprise me that federal investigators were looking into whether any campaign money was involved in the transactions, or at least campaign bank accounts, that could be used so that it was not as apparent when slugs of cash were used for personal purposes. Whether that violates any federal laws is an open question, but I suspect the U.S. Attorney's Office is going to take a very close look at the flow of the money to see what roads it traversed.

The New York Times, which broke the story, will have this article tomorrow on the investigation.

Original Post

ABC: Jail Time an Issue in Delaying Spitzer Resignation

First, via Newsday, some new details on the financial details of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's money-moving -- He called his bank to have his name taken off a wire transfer to the escort agency.

After the governor transferred $10,000 by breaking it into smaller amounts, he then called the bank asking that his name be removed from the transactions, the sources said.

Investigators tell Newsday the bank filed a report saying the transfer was suspicious and the I.R.S., thinking Spitzer might be being blackmailed, or that there might be an imposter involved, started an investigation.

Spitzer last year had wanted to wire transfer more than $10,000 from his branch to what turned out to be the front for the prostitution ring, QAT Consulting Group, which also uses a number of other names, in New Jersey, the sources said.

But Spitzer had the money broken down into several smaller amounts of under $10,000 each, apparently to avoid getting around federal regulations requiring the reporting of the transfer of $10,000 or more, the sources said.

The bank then, as is required by law, filed an SAR, or Suspicious Activity Report, with the Internal Revenue Service, reporting the transfer of the money that exceeded $10,000, but had been broken down into smaller amounts, the sources said.

Now, we're supposed to believe in coincidence:

...the source added that "we then got lucky" in singling out Spitzer and the prostitution ring.

Millions of SARS are generated each week and flow into the Internal Revenue Service nationwide, but an analyst at the regional IRS office in Hauppauge noted Spitzer's particular SAR and singled it out for attention to criminal investigators, the sources said.

Here's the latest report from ABC News which will be on ABC World News tonight.

Federal investigators say there is no evidence Spitzer used state money or campaign funds to pay the prostitutes, but that the way he moved an estimated $40,000 through various accounts violated federal money laundering laws.

So we have a total amount now of $40k, but no details as to how many times Spitzer moved the money or, except as to the first transfer, whether any others exceeded $10k.

Then there's this:

A prison term is one of the issues holding up the governor's resignation as well as whether or not he pleads guilty to criminal charges.

Other than that, lawyers close to the case say New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is prepared to resign and has his letter written.

The only source for an amount of prison time in the ABC report is an ex-prosecutor not involved in the Spitzer case. Here's the structuring statute and the structuring sentencing guideline.

I don't see jail time for Spitzer, regardless of what they charge him with or what the guidelines say. Resignation? My prediction is that will happen if and when he gets that assurance.

I'm still troubled by the "coincidental" nature of the discovery. I'm still not convinced he committed any crime (other than a technical Mann Act violation which the feds say they aren't interested in.) I'm not taking the word of unnamed government investigators.

And when are we going to get the indentities of clients # 1 through 8 and #10?

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    Clients 1-8? (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 06:44:48 PM EST
    MSNBC anchors?

    Joking ... joking.

    Very cleverly. . . (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:13:42 PM EST
    it appears that the investigators actually spooked Spitzer into releasing his own name.  They can claim that they never leaked any of the names of the clients -- of course, they seem to be leaking left and right with all the other details.

    One can dream (none / 0) (#5)
    by badger on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:09:23 PM EST
    More likely some of those who've already shown similar tendencies, like sex-tourism or sexual harrassment with foodstuffs.

    Spitzer / Giuliani dream team? (none / 0) (#28)
    by jerry on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:12:06 PM EST
    He broke down a larger wire transfer (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:00:43 PM EST
    into a series of small amounts, and then called the bank to take his name off of the transfers?

    The only word I can think of is "bone-headed," pun intended.  

    I am not sure it was a crime -- it depends on how close in time the wire transfers were, whether they really would otherwise have been aggregated into one payment, etc.  But stoopid beyond belief.

    Trying to figure out how someone (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:08:20 PM EST
    as well known as Spitzer could come up with weven $5000 w/o attracting attention. I was on a hotel elevator in Manhattan.  Everyone on the elevator knew exactly who he was.  

    How did he think that the hookers (none / 0) (#25)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:07:51 PM EST
    wouldn't recognize him?  He's not some semi-anonymous Congressman from Podunk.  He's the crime-busting governor of NY, future first Jewish president, and very unusual looking guy.

    It's like putting a sign on your head that says "blackmail me."


    Maybe (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:09:45 PM EST
    He wore a mask. Not unusual given the, er, circumstances.

    Make that. . . (none / 0) (#31)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:14:38 PM EST
    former first Jewish President.

    heh (none / 0) (#34)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:16:15 PM EST
    Chuck Schumer must have mixed feelings about all of this. . .

    Heh (none / 0) (#38)
    by Steve M on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:29:34 PM EST
    When you charge $3000 an hour, do you really need to resort to blackmail?  Heck, you can buy my silence for a fraction of that price.

    Anyone who is willing to charge (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by litigatormom on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:40:23 PM EST
    $3000 per hour for sex is going to be willing to extract a few dollars more for blackmail.

    Willing? (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:50:21 PM EST

    Ready on day 1. (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:49:41 PM EST
    that was Spitzer's campaign theme (none / 0) (#48)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 12:58:14 AM EST
    over and over he said he'd change Albany from day one.

    I'd imagine.... (none / 0) (#65)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 07:55:07 AM EST
    any high priced call-girl or agency who outed a client would put themselves out of business.

    And it's against the call-girl honor code to out a client.


    I don't get it (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by ineedalife on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:09:16 PM EST
    If the"services" were much less than $10,000 how is this money laundering? For instance Kersten was less than $5,000 for the night.

    I think they were hunting him. It doesn't excuse Spitzer's actions, but the public needs to understand what kind of country we have become.


    Do we know who runs (none / 0) (#68)
    by Kathy on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:15:41 AM EST
    QAT?  Who owns the agency?  Who is in charge?

    It seems that question, along with the names of the other johns, is not being explored.


    Maybe $80k (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Beldar on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:17:55 PM EST
    AP's Michael Gormley:

    With pressure mounting on Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign over a call-girl scandal, investigators said Tuesday he was clearly a repeat customer who spent tens of thousands of dollars -- perhaps as much as $80,000 -- with the high-priced prostitution service over an extended period of time.

    Spitzer and his family, meanwhile, remained secluded in their Fifth Avenue apartment, while Republicans began talking impeachment, and few if any fellow Democrats came forward to defend him. A death watch of sorts began at the state Capitol, where whispers of "What have you heard?" echoed through nearly every hallway of the ornate, 109-year-old building.

    On Monday, when the scandal broke, prosecutors said in court papers that Spitzer had been caught on a wiretap spending $4,300 with the Emperors Club VIP call-girl service, with some of the money going toward a night with a prostitute named Kristen, and the rest as credit toward future trysts. The papers also suggested that Spitzer had done this before.

    Speaking of condition of anonymity, a law enforcement official said Tuesday that Spitzer, in fact, had spent tens of thousands of dollars with the Emperors Club. Another official said the amount could be as high as $80,000. But it was not clear over what period of time that was spent.

    Unless Clients 1-8 and 10 structured to avoid triggering Treasury Dep't regs in paying for their sex, why would you ever expect the feds to be chasing them?  You're the one who noted yesterday, correctly, that feds don't generally pursue Mann Act or wire fraud charges against mere customers in interstate prostitution rings.

    You're right that it's  unlikely that it was "mere coincidence" that an SAR jumped out because it had Spitzer's name on it.  I would hope the IRS folks would be especially alert for suspicious financial transactions involving all public figures. Your inference seems to be that this was partisan, however. I don't think you've shown any basis for that inference.

    I'd guess (none / 0) (#69)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:16:18 AM EST
     that the major factor was Spitzer calling the bank after requesting the transfers and asking to have his name removed from the transactions. That's a pretty bizarre request to ask a bank to alter financial records and one can easily see that it would raise suspicion that something was amiss.

      We don't even have to get to that stage to ask what in heck was he thinking. Assuming his real goal was to prevent his wife (or anyone else) from learning that he was spending the money on hookers why use bank account and wire transfers at all, in any amount. These are not large sums of money for a rich man. Why not simply have an account of which your wife is unaware, write checks to himself and send cash by courier?

       I doubt that any flags would be raised by a rich man writing a 5 figure check to himself. Let the transaction be reported. In the unlikely event the Treasury department would investigate, he could just say he liked to keep a lot of cash on hand for incidental expenses and pocket money because he travels and entertains a lot.



    Clients 1 - 8, and 10? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Oje on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:21:19 PM EST
    Ever watch one of those lame teevee detective mystery shows where the criminal was after one jewel / person in particular, but perpetrated a seriality of crimes to hide his/her true target?

    The feds had the prostitution ring pretty much anytime they wanted, long before they reached ~5,000 calls and emails. Clients 1 through 8 were just the johns that happened along until the Feds caught the john they wanted using the prostitution ring. Client 10 was the extra job that makes it look like 9 was not the desired target.

    Perhaps the feds did not want to take down  the prostitution ring without removing the scent that exposed it.

    Why him out of all the johns? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by DaleA on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:45:27 PM EST
    There had to have been more than 10 given the size of the website and the number of 'escorts'. This is not a pennyante operation. Instead it looks to be a major business. Which would imply hundreds of johns.

    The sum of $4,000 per session seems unbelievable. And paying in advance? Even weirder buying putting money on a prostitute card.


    Well... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Oje on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:21:43 PM EST
    I dunno.... Maybe it is just 9 related (Mann Act, structuring) offenders or 9 other random offenders. Just saying, if you are going to take down a prostitution ring and there are hundreds of johns to chose from, it could have been closed down in the first two weeks (I think the wiretaps started in early January). But, since the feds had a high-profile john lead them to the ring, maybe they chose to wait until his appetites got the best of him again.

    I am just trying to analyze what I know, not conspiracy wonk. Maybe it was prosaic justice like a bad detective show, not political injustice.


    SARs Don't Go to the IRS (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by BDB on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:16:33 PM EST
    They go to FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an office within the Department of the Treasury).  It is true that many New York US Attorney's Offices have SAR Review Teams, which are inter-agency teams with representatives from the various federal law enforcement agencies who get together and reviewed SARs filed for a particular judicial district.  IRS agents would participate in that review, but SARs don't go to the IRS.  I'd say that means the source doesn't know what he is talking about, but more likely it means the source is not an IRS agent.  In my experience, it's the FBI that leaks like crazy, but who knows in this instance.

    Structuring was a stupid move by Spitzer.  It's a guaranteed red flag, always going to get a SAR.  He should've let them file a CTR, much less chance anyone pays any attention to it.

    One More Thing (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by BDB on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:21:29 PM EST
    This seems like an awful lot of work for a structuring case.  Usually structuring is used to get to folks involved in more serious criminal activity - organized crime, drug trafficking, etc.  Although from an IRS perspective, I guess given the amounts of money the prostitution ring was charging, that could be a decent sized target, especially if it wasn't paying all of its taxes.  But to use it to go after a John not otherwise involved?  Only to the extent it was needed to get his cooperation, but otherwise I can't imagine a U.S. Attorney's Office charging the John who wasn't Eliot Spitzer.  Folks structure all the time and most aren't prosecuted, it's like lying to the Feds, everybody does it, but only a few do time over it.

    Scuttlebutt around the SDNY indicates (none / 0) (#17)
    by JJE on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:41:45 PM EST
    That the bank reported the structuring, and the feds were worried he was taking a bribe.  That's why the public corruption unit is pursuing this.  Imagine their surprise when they found out where the money was really going.

    A bribe? (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:45:30 PM EST
    How would withdrawing or wiring cash out of the account indicate receiving a bribe?  Wouldn't that be suggested by cash in?

    Maybe they were afraid of Spitzer? (none / 0) (#57)
    by LimaBN on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 04:28:54 AM EST
    Maybe the Administration people were afraid Spitzer was running an investigation on one of their people, lining up a hooker to catch a Republican.

    Makes one wonder who the other customers of this particular call-girl ring were.

    No chance any of them could have been prominent Republicans, with those prices, I don't suppose.


    To catch a Repug? Jeff Gannon sat among media (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Ellie on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:20:08 AM EST
    ... in the White House daily briefings while simultaneously advertising sex-for-hire online.

    So I doubt there was a search for any sex-trade activities involving Repugs for blackmail purposes. Really, what more can the most corrupt admin ever do to incite outrage, even from the "opposition" Dems? To recap the Gannon stuff that was public record:

    Gannon / Guckert had no journalistic experience nor credentials (apart from the, you know, knob polishing.) He inexplicably got access into the White House and was waved though by the Secret Service as a personal pal of Karl Rove -- this in a time of heightened concerns about nat'l security.

    The Executive Branch's pals in RW media even had a little wagon circling and drummed up the charge that the administration's enemies went after Gannon for being a Christian conservative. That's how in your face this administration is/was about bullying virtual media silence on the issue.

    Dems timorously didn't pursue this, though throughout what muted publicity the Gannon issue received, the usual Repug pontificating about depravity across the aisle continued.

    Who knows why the Dems didn't run with this. (Maybe they were afraid some bloviator would label them homophobic.)

    Let's see whether the Repugs refrain from calling for Spitzer's head.


    Curious (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 03:09:23 AM EST
    Early on there was a comment that the IRS started investigating him a year ago, did I imagine this?  Wondering who and why that investigation started?  If 5,000 dollar transactions trigger IRS investigations, my oh my.  What next?   What came first.  

    Not that I had delusions to the contrary, but basically there is no privacy anymore.  

    And don't forget the Fed Database of Rx Drug use (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by jerry on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 03:45:36 AM EST
    Jeralyn reported on here: Abuse of the Federal Prescription Database Law

    When I grew up I learned of apocryphal stories of people living in the prairie who would have to move if someone lived within ten miles of them -- they neighborhood was getting too crowded.  And the difference between "us" and "them" was how we respected privacy and didn't require papers when traveling.

    Seems to all be gone.  So do I teach my kids to value privacy, or do I teach them to embrace the new paradigm?


    New Paradigm (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 03:50:33 AM EST
    No privacy, they know and will know everything.  Yet, they will only use it against some.  That is the kicker.  Let's see where we go next.

    New Biz of the future: anonymizer (none / 0) (#66)
    by lilybart on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:14:55 AM EST
    I will open a store that will take all the GPS tracking out of your phone, your car, your clothes, anywhere.  Then I will see you pre-paid anonymous phones, and start a new internet access company that will never allow any information to be given out without a warrant.

    New product: a hat that will prevent overhead tracking by google earth or other programs. A clear cover for your windshield and license plate that prevents photographs.

    The only bank you use is your mattress.


    Long time customer myself..... (none / 0) (#89)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:49:04 AM EST
    Leave off the last "S" for savings...no ATM fees at Sealy Postueropedic Savings Bank!

    Newer product: a hat with an LCD Screen (none / 0) (#95)
    by jerry on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:45:46 AM EST
    that displays to the satellites someone else's hat!

    individual $5,000 cash (none / 0) (#77)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:59:51 AM EST
    transactions, by themselves, don't normally trigger much of anything, least of all an IRS investigation. ok, except maybe your spouses curiousity.

    what does trigger an investigation is multiple cash transactions, within the same business/financial institution, in a brief period of time, which appear to be an attempt to skirt the CTR requirements and for which no F8300 has been filed.

    as noted elsewhere, this type of activity has historically been connected with money laundering; attempting to cleanse the profits from criminal enterprises.

    as well, it's usually followed by a failure to report those profits as taxable income. see: al capone.

    i've had cases where individuals walked into a BMW dealership and paid $40-50k cash for a car. oddly enough, these people had no obvious legitimate source for these funds, and no one had died, leaving them heir to their fortune.

    these guys weren't the brightest bulbs in the box, but they did have decent taste in vehicles. unfortunately, they didn't have much time to enjoy them, since they mostly ended up in jail, for drug trafficking.

    if they'd been really smart, they'd have incorporated, given themselves a fancy name like, oh, i don't know, "Fred's Pharmaceuticals, Inc.", had an IPO and made a fortune.

    but i digress. sorry. ah, memories!

    one thing jeralyn: doesn't "prosecutorial discretion" come into play, with regards to the other alleged customers? what law mandates that everyone involved be prosecuted, given the resources available?

    the implication here is that "fairness" is a legitimate issue. it isn't, and i suspect the defense attorney knows better.


    Repugs threaten to impeach if no resignation (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Ellie on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:23:28 AM EST
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state Republicans threatened on Tuesday to impeach Gov. Eliot Spitzer if he does not quit over a sex scandal that has raised questions over whether he could face criminal charges.

    The threat added to pressure on Spitzer, a Democrat and former state chief prosecutor who made his name fighting white-collar crime on Wall Street, to step down [...] ( NY Republicans threaten to impeach Gov. Spitzer, by Claudia Parsons, Reuters, 03/11/2008)

    I hope "leadership" Dem, Nancy "Impeachment is Off the Table" Pelosi is watching. This demand came down fast, hard and without hemming and hawing.

    (Filing this in my Why I'm a Free Range Liberal file before I check in with my End the Double Standard for Gauging Morality, Ethics and Corruption in Politics support group.)

    Yes, the gloves have got to come off (none / 0) (#84)
    by A little night musing on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:46:33 AM EST
    "I hope "leadership" Dem, Nancy "Impeachment is Off the Table" Pelosi is watching. This demand came down fast, hard and without hemming and hawing."

    (R) NY Sen Maj. Leader Bruno (ph) just took over (none / 0) (#87)
    by Ellie on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:00:39 AM EST
    Breaking on CNN

    BOOM goes the dynamite.

    "We're going to partner with the Lt. Gov. when he becomes governor."

    "[Spitzer] must deal with this in his own way."

    "Our responsibility is to govern."

    yadda yadda ... family ... sympathy ... another step towards utter One Party world domination ... suck it Dems ... nothing to see here folks ... hurts less if you don't struggle ... Spitzer to resign shortly


    Perhaps not. (none / 0) (#6)
    by QuakerInABasement on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:17:43 PM EST
    I'm still not convinced he committed any crime

    Perhaps not, but he has certainly violated the public trust. He had direct knowledge of an ongoing criminal enterprise, did nothing to stop its operation, and, in fact, became engaged as a customer.

    Seems like just the other day, people here were saying Mr. Obama's actions with Mr. Rezko--actions completely unrelated to any crime--"go to judgment." What do Mr. Spitzer's actions say about his judgment?

    I very much doubt. . . (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:16:05 PM EST
    anyone here is going to defend Spitzer's judgment.  Why do you ask?

    I doubt anyone on the planet (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:21:52 PM EST
    would defend his judgment. The comment was an attempt to redirect the conversation.

    On the contrary. (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by QuakerInABasement on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:17:51 AM EST
    The comment was an attempt to redirect the conversation.

    Was not. There seems to be a strong current of willingness demonstrated in this thread to excuse Mr. Spitzer's actions and to support his continuation in office because his offenses were minor.

    I have not noticed that this spirit of forgiveness is applied evenly.


    didn't he break the law (none / 0) (#70)
    by Kathy on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:20:08 AM EST
    by paying a prostitute for sex?

    I know it's not a "big" law, but still, he did it.


    Assuming the reported facts are accurate (none / 0) (#72)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:31:42 AM EST
      he clearly solicited-- probably in both NY and the District. Those are mere state level misdemeanors. On the federal level, he may have violated or conspired to violate the Mann Act and the general interstate travel statute.

      The federal financial offenses are much less clear even vieweing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. Again, calling the bank and requesting alteration of the records is hugely significant because it could be viewed as probative of an intent to conceal the nature and purpose of the transactions, and not just from his wife. There is also the issue of paying the expenses of his consort rather than merely paying a flat fee for services. Arguably, that could bring one within reach of  money laundering statutes as well.

      In the annals of stupidity, this one ranks high. I guess the moral of the story is that your head has a bigger brain than your ....


    stay on topic (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:24:37 PM EST
    it's spitzer. Put the other stuff on a different thread.

    Very well. Rewrite. (none / 0) (#14)
    by QuakerInABasement on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:21:35 PM EST
    We often hold public figures to a higher standard, saying that their actions, although legal, may "go to judgment." What do Mr. Spitzer's actions say about his judgment?

    George Fox (none / 0) (#18)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:43:27 PM EST
    QuakerIAB:  Have thee no comment on Spitzer's use of the revered name "George Fox" as an alias?  Maybe it wasn't a reference to Elliott's friend George, but a blasphemous allusion to the original Founding Friend.

    Wow (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:02:38 PM EST
    That is rich. Tremble at the word of the Lord. Nice alter ego for Spitzer.

    Actually yes. (none / 0) (#90)
    by QuakerInABasement on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:08:40 AM EST
    The irony is rich and deep.

    $80,000 on hookers? (none / 0) (#11)
    by vj on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:05:30 PM EST
    If true, that's kinda sad.  

    I think he has to resign.  I can't see him being effective after these revelations.

    Not as bad as it sounds.... (none / 0) (#67)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:15:39 AM EST
    80k would be atronomical if it was a $100 per hour service.

    At 1k per hour, and 4 hrs per date, it's not that much.


    Holy Smokes! (none / 0) (#15)
    by OldCoastie on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:38:12 PM EST

    wow. That's a lot of money.

    And they claim. . . (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:18:01 PM EST
    inflation is under control!

    Outlay (npi) for room, transportation, comestibles (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Ellie on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 05:53:50 AM EST
    I can't cite the source because I tend to surf the early evening news, but the balloon total apparently included room and other expenses. The sex worker's list also had a rider of expenses that seemed pretty exhaustive.

    Hell, throw in a decent per diem and a plan that covered elective orthodontia, I'd do Spitzer myself.


    If anyone is interested (none / 0) (#16)
    by JJE on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:40:33 PM EST
    Spitzer is represented by Paul Weiss.  His tab for this is going to be a lot higher than $80k.

    thanks, we reported that last night (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:49:49 PM EST
    wondering if Ted Wells was going to make an appearance, but it's his friend from law school, Michelle somebody, who is a partner at Paul Weiss who is his chief defender right now. If they are friends, he'll probably get a discount.

    Also, he's a multi-millionaire from his father's real estate business, so I doubt the money means much to him.


    make that Michelle (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:07:17 PM EST
    Hirahman, who was one of his top deputies when he was AG and is now a partner at the firm, rather than a law school friend.

    His lawyer's name (none / 0) (#35)
    by Peter G on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:16:19 PM EST
    is spelled "Michele Hirschman." Here's what the firm has to say about her.  She was chief of the public corruption unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office before becoming Spitzer's chief deputy AG.  At least, as a Harvard Law grad in trouble, Spitzer has enough sense to go to a Yale Law grad for help.  

    thanks, I really (none / 0) (#51)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:52:55 AM EST
    butchered that spelling.

    What I think the details show... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:50:39 PM EST
    ... is that this was something Spitzer had done for some time, and put some fair amount of premeditation into trying to hide. It makes it harder to dismiss as just impulsive human frailty. It's a pity he sqandered the potential he had, but the sooner he's gone, the better.

    for the record (none / 0) (#37)
    by white n az on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:21:34 PM EST
    it was Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

    But not living in NY, I really don't care about this and feel bad for his wife. This isn't really a story worth all the noise that it has generated.

    Legalize it already

    this is in response (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:24:32 PM EST
    to a comment about Dr. Laura blaming Spitzer's actions on his wife. The comment was deleted for saying a different Laura said it.

    hide the expenses from his family? (none / 0) (#41)
    by 1980Ford on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:44:26 PM EST
    Why is that a federal crime? The statutes are obviously too broad if that inclusive.

    Hiding the expenses. . . (none / 0) (#43)
    by LarryInNYC on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 10:52:36 PM EST
    presumably would be the circumstance that led him to use campaign accounts (if that happened).  Any additional problem would probably arise from what accounts the money came from.

    If that was his intent (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 11:26:13 PM EST
    I think they would have a hard time making the structuring charge. The structuring has to be done with the intent to evade the reporting requirement. If you do it so your wife doesn't find out, there's no criminal intent.

    But if he took money from campaign accounts rather than his personal accoutns, and he wasn't entitled to do that, it could be a different crime.


    it also needs to be done within a (none / 0) (#94)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:45:17 AM EST
    a short period of time, to support the assertion that those transactions are proximately related to each other.

    i make one $5,000 cash withdrawal on jan. 1, a second on june 30 and a third on dec. 31, all from the same financial institution. the aggregate exceeds $10,000, but absent any other cempelling evidence, would not be required to be reported, because there is no apparent proximate relationship between them.

    i make one $5,000 cash withdrawal on jan. 1, a second on jan. 3 and a third on jan. 10, all from the same financial institution. this series of events would be required to be reported, as the closeness of the transactions would appear to make it, in essence, one event. time is of the essence.

    if you were structuring merely to avoid having your spouse find out, filing the CTR wouldn't hurt you, they don't mail a copy of it to your residence. i could be wrong, but i believe the act itself is presumptive evidence of intent.


    According to NYT on line, (none / 0) (#49)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:04:23 AM EST
    Spitzer's wife is urging him not to resign.

    Looks like Spitzer picked (none / 0) (#50)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:44:33 AM EST
    an excellent lawyer.

    Why would $5000 trigger the (none / 0) (#52)
    by landjjames on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 02:39:05 AM EST
    interest of anyone?  It would in my bank account, but Spitzer is a very wealthy man.  I'm sure he drops $5000 on gifts for his wife, picking up the tab at restaurants for groups, vacations - a host of reasons.  It just doesn't smell right that they went after him.

    I agree AND (none / 0) (#71)
    by lilybart on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:20:37 AM EST
    it is disturbing to me that people are allowed to rummage around your bank accounts and then file a Sars only based on that employee thinking something doesn't look right to them.

    Does everyone know this is happening?


    I work in the financial services industry and (none / 0) (#78)
    by Joike on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:11:26 AM EST
    one of our requirements is to report suspicious account activity.

    The amount is irrelevant.  If a client is making unusual transactions (for them specifically), then we are required to make a judgment about whether it is suspicious transaction and whether it needs to be reported.

    We have a couple as clients who suddenly had a series of relatively small withdrawals occur.  Since it was suspicious, we contacted them.  Turns out, their daughter had stolen their checkbook and was writing checks for her own benefit.

    While embarrassed, the clients were thankful that we alerted them to the theft.

    Some people may feel that this oversight is intrusive, but there is enough theft and criminal activity out there that our clients like the idea that we are keeping an eye on their money.

    I'm just susrprised that Spitzer was so sloppy in covering his tracks.  He'd have been better off making large, regular (the key is regular) transactions.  That way the transactions to pay for the hookers don't appear suspicious.  It just looks like his normal personal activity.

    Also, it looks like the FBI was gunning for him.  I'm not saying this case is like the Alabama governor, but the FBI appears to have had the goods on the prostitution ring, but waited until Spitzer came calling again before making their move.

    I'm not trying to excuse Spitzer's stupid behavior.  He deserve what he gets, but the FBI knew they had a big fish near the hook and let the ring continue to operate until he bit.


    Nice to know.... (none / 0) (#85)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:50:16 AM EST
    the government has basically deputized the entire banking industry into a law enforcement entity.

    Do you guys get shiny badges at least?


    And the focus of the news is... (none / 0) (#56)
    by LimaBN on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 04:24:51 AM EST
    Friday afternoon, W vetoes the anti-torture Act
    that would have made personal liability for illegal actions like torture.

    Our top military officer in charge of operations
    in Iraq and Iran resigns under pressure, with the
    announcement pre-scheduled for what just happens
    to be the same day that the Spitzer story gets
    turned loose.

    So instead of talking about the criminality of the Bush Administration and the impending war on Iran,
    we're talking wall-to-wall coverage of a sex scandal involving a Democrat.

    And the Don Siegleman story?  Not an issue any more, eh?

    Goebbels would be so proud.

    Democrats need to address the media problem (none / 0) (#59)
    by diplomatic on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 05:58:13 AM EST
    The Republicans are treated to a different standard by the media and unless the Democratic Party makes a concerted effort like conservatives did during the 90s at leveling the playing field, we are in for many more years of devastating consequences in this disparity of fairness.

    I look at channels like FOX News and talk radio with slight admiration and envy at how effective they are at coordinating and propagating a uniformed message that actually drives coverage.

    Nothing like that for our side out there.  We are living under a false Democracy until this dynamic is changed.


    the press (none / 0) (#64)
    by teachermom on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 07:29:25 AM EST
    You are so right. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Whatever the outcome, this sure looks messy (none / 0) (#60)
    by diplomatic on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:02:01 AM EST
    A whole bunch of yuck for Spitzer and his family and the people of New York.

    "Official business" was questionable (none / 0) (#62)
    by Beldar on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 07:12:06 AM EST
    Jeralyn, you wrote:

    He was in Washington to attend a Congressional hearing, that's official business. It's not like he just went to have a tryst.

    You must have missed Tuesday's WaPo, which suggests exactly that:

    Spitzer's travel schedule shows he spent the night of Feb. 13 in Washington to attend a congressional hearing the next day, Valentine's Day. Spitzer was not initially scheduled to appear at the hearing on the state of the bond industry, held by the Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, insurance and government-sponsored enterprises. But committee staff members said Spitzer called to insist on coming to testify, and they ended up pushing back the New York insurance superintendent to make room for the governor's last-minute appearance.

    It is ridiculous to think that he (none / 0) (#80)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:20:50 AM EST
    would insert himself into a Congressional hearing of all things in order to have a date with a hooker.  He could have just gotten a room in NY for a night and saved the train fare for the girl if that was his primary objective.  

    He might have had reason (none / 0) (#82)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:24:00 AM EST
     to believe he would draw less attention in DC than he would renting a hotel room in the city in which he and his family live which happens to be located in the state where he is governor. A handy excude for being away from home might be helpful as well.

    Trying to get in front of Congress (none / 0) (#96)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 12:00:41 PM EST
    as a ploy to go out with a hooker would be silly.  Having some kind of innocuous meeting that he was entirely in control of setting up  and convening could be said to be a ploy, but testifying before Congress isn't something anyone just goes and does without purpose.  It sounds more like the hooker was an extra or an after thought than the entire objective of the trip.

    As for meeting in any number of NY hotels - meetings happen all the time amongst politicians and businessmen in hotels - a couple hours away from his family - which is apparently all he paid for - isn't that hard for any busy guy to explain away.

    Finally, based on what the media is alleging - hookers were a habit - I sincerely doubt that he hasn't figured out a system that works for him when he is at home in NYC - I would be blown away if he went out of town every time he wanted to spend time with a prostitute.  If that were the case, he'd have found local resources in other cities and not bothered with the NY girls.


    I didn't miss it (none / 0) (#86)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:58:43 AM EST
    it doesn't change that he was there attending official business. That he had dual motives is irrelevant to that issue.

    Obviously, (none / 0) (#88)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:03:23 AM EST
      that's not the lawyer part of you speaking. I hope.

    of course it is (none / 0) (#91)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:13:20 AM EST
    the defense lawyer. You present the ex-prosecutor view here with which I rarely agree.

    I'm not an ex-prosecutor (none / 0) (#93)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 11:20:32 AM EST
      but to be an effective defense lawyer it is necessary to understand the long established  arguments that exist for why his actions in booking a last minute trip to DC would be relevant if he was tried.

      He'd certainly be allowed to introoduce equally relevant evidence that his trip was for other purposes, but there is no conceivable basis for arguing that the prosecution would not be allowed to introduce evidence surrounding the circumstances that resulted in his presence at the scene of the crime.


    It depends on the sequence of (none / 0) (#97)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 12:07:13 PM EST
    events really.  If he booked the hotel and the girl a week prior and then figured out something to do in DC - it might be believable that he coordinated the trip entirely for the girl - but if he organized the DC Congressional testimony and then booked the girl it seems to me that it is a pretty weak assertion that he planned the trip to see the girl.

    Let's just say he made dinner reservations or bought tickets to a show in DC a month prior and then found himself something official to do - that could be considered corrupt use of state funds - but if he made dinner reservations or bought tickets after he knew he was already coming there's nothing anyone could say about his organizing food and entertainment assuming he paid for it from his personal funds.  Well they could say something, but it would be a stretch imo.


    you are confusing (none / 0) (#98)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 07:48:36 AM EST
     concepts I'll term "relative credibility" and "relative persuasiveness" with "relevance." Some "relevant" evidence can be very lacking credibility and/or persuasiveness but that does not make it "irrelevant"

      "Relevant evidence" has a very specific legal meaning (see Rule 401 F.R.E.. it means evidence having ANY tendency to make the existence of ANY fact that is consequence more or less probable.

      One need not think too long to see several facts that the last minute scheduling of an official appearance that coincides temprally and geographically with a criminal act might make more or less likely. You see at least one of them yourself and offer an innocent explanation for it-- but the other side is not prohibited from offering a less innocent explanation just because an innocent one is plausible. That's precisely what creates a question of fact  for a jury.


    A deal (none / 0) (#63)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 07:12:38 AM EST
    for his resignation and promise not to seek office in the future in excchange for deferring prosecution if he manitanind "good behavior" seems appropriate. From his standpoint, he is removing risk of conviction and its attendant disabilities (in addition to incarceration), saving a lot of monry, worry over uncertainty and prolonged humilation. From the government's stadpoint it is saving the resources necessary for a prosecution and obtaining a very significant concessionfor an offense[s] that simply is not that serious in legal terms. The loss of office is really more "punishing" than would be a fine and probation, and I doubt even federal prosecutors believe this is an offense worthy of imprisonment.

      To make the deal more appealing to the general public it could also include terms requiring his full cooperation in the investigation/prosecution of the pimping outfit and to make full disclosure of all the financial aspects involved (with use immunity for any statements he gives).


    Having Spitzer turn rat.... (none / 0) (#73)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:34:49 AM EST
    doesn't appeal to this member of the general public...though I'm a unique case:)

    The merciless prosecutor (none / 0) (#74)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:35:53 AM EST
    now wants mitigation?  Jeralyn is it true the Spitzer was merciless in his prosecutions.  You commit a crime you pay and don't give me any of your mitigation BS cause I not hearing it.

    I hope for his sake (none / 0) (#75)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:37:09 AM EST
      that this particular organization is an "independent" agency and not connected to certain folks who share your view about ratting, but express their displeasure more vehemently.

    I'm thinking they are independent..... (none / 0) (#76)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:59:37 AM EST
    but that doesn't mean they aren't paying a tribute to somebody.

    That's how the black market works...any gangster worth his salt would know about such a moneymaker in his territory, and come for his slice.


    Reports are he will resign at 11:30 a.m. (none / 0) (#79)
    by vj on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 09:16:26 AM EST
    AP reporting Spitzer to announce his resignation at 11:30 a.m. 3/12/08

    ... observing the discussions online and in person recently, I've begun to think differently about the political effects.

    1. It seems to me now that "will this be fun to talk about with my friends" is the determining factor for a lot of the spread of discussion. So even among people who claim to be politically involved, I've heard chats that focused only on the salacious aspects of the story and it's been really hard (impossible) to get the discussion moved over to the effects of Spitzer resigning on NY State government, for instance. So it seems a rather clever tactic on the part of the Repubs if that's what it is (as it seems). Wouldn't Bruno be second in line after Patterson? That scares me.

    2. I also wonder if the reason Vitter and Craig get to stay but people who used to like Spitzer are asking him to resign, doesn't represent a big difference in the approaches of right vs. left. Namely, on the right, people seem to be happy with politicians who do what they want them to do (more often than not) and espouse the right values, whereas on the left we often seem to want our politicians to be one thing all the way through. I've been involved in lobbying where the people I was working with felt very disappointed and dirty when we'd convinced someone to vote our way for purely pragamtic reasons, not having to do with a change in the pol's viewpoint overall. And I think we could stand to be a bit more pragmatic, without quite being altogether cynical.

    Sorry, I'm not saying this well, but I don't want to run on too much.