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The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

CEPI Newsletter April 2019

This monthly compendium of news reports about corruption and ethics issues is brought to you by the Center for Ethics and Public Integrity (CEPI). Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute express a view as to the accuracy of news accounts or affirm any position taken by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.

Cases

State

Ex-Margate Commissioner David McLean Sentenced to 5 Years in Corruption Case: Former Margate, Florida, city commissioner, tiki bar owner, and Elvis impersonator David McLean has been sentenced to five years in state prison on corruption charges. McLean used his influence to secure political favors for Lutchman Singh, who owned the shopping mall where McLean’s tiki bar was located. In exchange, Singh bribed McLean with $6,000 in cash and forgave $8,000 of back rent payments. A related case that had been prosecuted by federal prosecutors was dismissed by an appeals court after the government was unable to prove a relevant city entity received federal benefits sufficient to subject McLean to prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 666, and the case was picked up by the state in 2016.

Marion Town Clerk Ray Pickles Indicted for Larceny: The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has charged Marion, Mass., Town Clerk Ray Pickles and former District Board Chairman for the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District Robert Tinkham with larceny. The men are accused of stealing over $675,000 of public money.

Ex-NJDOT Buyer From Collingswood Illegally Awarded Contracts: AG: Ricardo Noce Jr., a former purchaser for the New Jersey Department of Transportation, pled guilty to awarding contracts to a vendor in violation of a rule requiring competitive bidding. That vendor, Noce’s friend, charged the state an estimated $93,059 over prices offered by other vendors. The case was brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

Cleveland Police Officer Contacted 2,300 Women Using Work Computer, Authorities Say: Former Cleveland, Ohio, sergeant Michael Rybarczyk has been charged in state court in connection with allegations he used a police database to look for information about two women and used his city-issued computer to send messages via social media to 2,300 others. The new charges stemmed from an earlier investigation that resulted in him being charged with soliciting prostitution. Similar charges were recently filed against a police officer in Florida.

Former Mercer County DA Sentenced in Obstruction Case Involving His Lover: Former Mercer County, Penn. District Attorney Miles Karson has been sentenced to four years of probation and 300 hours of community service for trying to use his power to influence criminal cases against a woman with whom he was in a romantic relationship. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office bought the case, one of several public corruption cases it has prosecuted recently, which include the recent filing of charges against a former Northumberland County Prothonotary who is alleged to have stolen $30,000 from the state.

West Virginia Sues Catholic Diocese, Alleging It Knowingly Employed Pedophiles: The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office has filed a civil lawsuit against the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and a former bishop that alleges that the diocese knowingly employed pedophiles and did not conduct adequate background checks on staff members. The suit alleges repeated instances of men who had admitted or been convicted of sexually abusing children being assigned to schools and other posts where they had access to children.

Federal

How an Accused Drug Dealer Became Key to the Biggest Corruption Case in Honolulu History: A lengthy article details the evolution of cases in Hawaii involving the now-former chief of police and prosecuting attorney in Honolulu. Allegations include that the chief of police’s wife—who was also a prosecutor—and the chief prosecutor entered into a cooperation agreement with a defendant that was designed to ensure that defendant did not provide information about the prosecutor’s own criminal conduct. The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office has taken over several of the cases that were being prosecuted by the Honolulu prosecutor’s office.

Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud: Two actresses and a handful of college coaches are among the 46 people who have been charged in a widespread college admissions bribery scandal. The case included everything from faking SAT scores to falsely claiming that students were star athletes so bribed coaches could advocate for their admission.

Ethics

N.J. Judge Who Told Woman to ‘Close Your Legs’ Now Facing Sexual Harassment Suit from Ex-Clerk: New Jersey Judge John F. Russo, Jr.—who has faced criticism for asking a woman seeking a restraining order against a boyfriend she accused of rape if she had “closed her legs,” and is facing other judicial misconduct counts—is now the subject of a civil suit filed by a former law clerk. That former clerk alleges that the judge sexually harassed her and made comments that she believed were motivated by racial prejudice.

Federal Prosecutors Charge AK-47 Shooter Who Got Plea Deal from DA Krasner’s Office: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently charged a defendant who shot and nearly killed a store owner during a robbery after concluding that the plea deal entered into by District Attorney Larry Krasner was insufficient to vindicate the victim and federal interests. That defendant had been charged by the district attorney’s office with crimes that included attempted murder, but was permitted to enter a guilty plea to aggravated assault and other offenses, which carried a three-and-one-half to 10-year sentence in state prison. The victim, who is wheelchair-bound as a result of the shooting, had not been notified of the plea or the sentencing, in violation of the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act. The case is included in this newsletter for its relevance for prosecutorial discretion, and because of the relatively rare occurrence of federal authorities prosecuting a defendant who was previously prosecuted on state charges arising from the same incident—the continued constitutional viability of which may be called into question by Gamble v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Jussie Smollett’s Charges Are Dropped, Angering Mayor and Police: In another high-profile case that underscores the power of prosecutorial discretion (and differences of opinion among law enforcement about the correct outcome of a case), the Cook County State Attorney’s Office has dismissed charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who had been charged with filing a false complaint.

Potpourri

U.S. Department of Justice Announces Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement Initiative: A law firm summarizes the increase in enforcement actions by federal prosecutors under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which has been in the spotlight recently in the cases against Paul Manafort and Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom, and the ongoing investigation of Greg Craig.

DOJ, FBI, and CFTC Announce FCPA Policy Revisions and Initiatives: A law firm provides a summary of three significant corruption-related enforcement announcements by federal regulators: (1) Revisions by the U.S. Department of Justice to its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Corporate Enforcement Policy; (2) An announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it is creating a dedicated international corruption squad in Miami that will focus on corruption and money laundering; and (3) The decision by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to investigate cases involving foreign corruption, in parallel with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sixth Circuit Issues Decision Regarding Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine: In a decision that may be of use to prosecutors who have charged defendants they are unable to extradite, the Sixth Circuit applied the fugitive disentitlement doctrine to affirm the decision of a district court that refused to rule on a motion to dismiss charges defense counsel filed in a case involving an Armenian citizen who was living in China, who opted not to return to the U.S. to face charges in person.

Are Legislative Changes to US AML Rules Finally on the Way?: The Global Anticorruption Blog summarizes bills under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives that would ensure the collection of information about the beneficial owners of companies, and the provision of that information to prosecutors and law enforcement who request it.

LAist Joins Newsrooms Across California To Shine Light on Long-Secret Police Records: In California, over 30 newsrooms have agreed to share Public Records Act requests for police personnel and other files and the files they receive as a result of those requests. The consortium comes about in the wake of a new law, SB 1421, that allows public access to police records involving dishonesty, sexual assault, and use of force.

International

Canada’s Top Public Servant Is Fourth Official to Quit in Scandal Ensnaring Trudeau: The public servant accused of improperly pressing former Canadian Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to grant a deferred prosecution to SNC-Lavalin has resigned. Michael Wernick joins the attorney general and two other top government officials in stepping down in the aftermath of the ethics investigation into Wilson-Raybould’s allegations.

Guatemalan Judge Orders Arrest of Former Attorney General: Thelma Aldana, the former attorney general of Guatemala, has been charged with embezzlement, lying, and tax fraud. Aldana helped lead investigations into several prominent politicians, including the current president, and has declared her candidacy for the June 2019 presidential election. Aldana told U.S. press that her presidential candidacy confers immunity upon her.

How Strongmen Turned Interpol Into Their Personal Weapon: The New York Times writes about Interpol’s rapid expansion after 9-11 and suggests that this expansion has come at a cost: the use of red notices (which are essentially international arrest warrants) by dictators and despots to compel other countries to arrest people who have fled their repressive regimes. While the article acknowledges the important role red notices play in ensuring that criminals do not escape justice by fleeing to another country, it cites several cases that, it argues, show that the process can be tainted by political influence by Russia, Turkey, Venezuela, and others. The article also notes that the U.S. Department of Justice sent a veteran lawyer to serve as Interpol’s counsel in 2016—one of several steps that have been taken in recent years to reduce the chance that Interpol is being improperly used—and that other Interpol processes, including a stolen passport database, can be misused.


Amie Ely is the Director of the Center for Ethics & Public Integrity and the Editor of the CEPI Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6041. The CEPI Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail aely@naag.org.

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