The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
CEPI Newsletter February 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.
AGs, Crime Lab Directors Assist Puerto Rico Forensic Science Lab After Hurricane Damage: NAAG has partnered with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) to assist the Puerto Rico Bureau of Forensic Science as it addresses damages from Hurricane Maria, the territory’s financial struggles, and other challenges. NAAG and ASCLD have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety, which has oversight over the lab. In addition to ASCLD’s assessments of the lab’s forensic science disciplines, the American Board of Forensic Anthropology sent eight anthropologists to examine remains.
Man Sentenced for Theft from ALDOT: Former Alabama Department of Transportation employee Christopher Lee Hobbs pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in jail (suspended) for stealing from his employer. Hobbs admitted he had taken over $20,000 worth of metal intended for use on the state roads and highways and sold it as scrap to several recycling centers. The case was brought by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
Ex-New Jersey Child Welfare Worker Who Extorted Sex From Female Clients Sentenced: Lamont King, a former New Jersey assistant family services worker who pled guilty to extorting sex from two women he supervised during court-ordered visits, was sentenced to three years in prison. King worked in the Department of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. The case was brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
CFO for Freehold Nonprofit Pleads Guilty To $115,000 Theft From People with Autism: In a case also brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the former chief financial officer for New Horizons in Autism entered a guilty plea to stealing nearly $115,000 from that organization for his personal use. At least some of the money Peter Pflug stole from the nonprofit was spent on home improvements.
New York Attorney General’s Investigation Looks Into Troy Land Sale: The New York Attorney General’s Office is investigating the sale of a 1.85-acre parcel of land to a former Troy (New York) City Engineer in 2015 for $3,500. When that engineer left his position, he listed the land for sale for $65,000. The investigation has already resulted in charges against a city code enforcement officer.
Ex-Carbon County Court Clerk Charged with Stealing Bail Money, Court Fees: The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has charged former Carbon County Clerk of Courts William McGinley with stealing $43,000 worth of bail money and court fees. The theft was apparently discovered as a result of an audit by the Pennsylvania Auditor General, who provided recommendations for safeguards to protect public funds.
St. Louis Prosecutor Accuses Police of Obstructing Inquiry Into Killing of Officer: St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner has accused her city’s police department of obstructing an investigation into the killing of a female police officer who was shot while allegedly playing Russian roulette with a colleague. Gardner said that the police department refused to execute a search warrant that called for blood samples from the other officers who were present when the woman died, and noted that other biological samples that were obtained from the officers were provided under Garrity, which prevents her from using them as part of her investigation into the shooting.
The Case for State-Level Anticorruption Prosecutions in the U.S.: The Global Anticorruption Blog argues that states should play a greater role in anticorruption enforcement.
Law Firm to Pay $4.6 Million in Case Tied to Manafort and Ukraine: White shoe law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle an investigation into its representation of the then-Russia-aligned Ukrainian government. In 2012, Skadden—led by Gregory B. Craig, who has since left the firm—conducted an analysis of the prosecution directed by Ukraine’s President Viktor F. Yanukovych of one of his leading political rivals. Craig’s “independent” report (for which Skadden was paid more than $4.6 million in part by offshore accounts controlled by Paul Manafort) concluded that Yanukovych’s conviction was supported by the evidence and not politically motivated. According to the settlement, Skadden was not aware that Craig would then use the report to lobby U.S. politicians and make arguments to the U.S. press about the prosecution, activity that subjected it to the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
Document: Concord Management Used Discovery for Disinformation Campaign, Mueller Says: In a filing that may provide useful analyses for corruption prosecutors addressing the improper use of discovery by defense counsel, the special counsel’s office has filed an opposition to a request by defense counsel for “sensitive” documents. The filing argues, inter alia, that discovery documents that were previously provided to the defense were disseminated online—in violation of a protective order—and altered, “demonstrat[ing] the risks of permitted sensitive discovery to reside outside the confines of the United States.”
Will 2019 Be the Year the US Finally Passes Anonymous Company Reform? Not If the ABA Gets Its Way: In an unsparing assessment, Prof. Matthew Stephenson breaks down the ABA’s opposition to various bills pending in Congress that would impose additional requirements on those assisting in the formation of shell companies. He concludes that its opposition is an “embarrassment” and notes that others in the legal profession disagree with the ABA’s “absurdly strident objections” to requiring the registration of “shady anonymous companies.”
SC Ethics Advocate Creates Ethics Dilemma By Giving Books on Corruption to Lawmakers: South Carolina ethics advocate John Crangle caused a stir after he gave more than 180 copies of a book he wrote about a legislative corruption scandal to current members of the state’s legislature. Crangle explained that he believed that his 600-page tome was worth less than the $25 limit on gifts—as its wholesale value was less than $22.00—but after the House Ethics Committee staff found a copy online for $39.95, some lawmakers returned the book.
Do Anticorruption Advocates Practice What They Preach?: A professor looks at whether charities and other non-government organizations that are involved in anticorruption work are abiding by their own recommendations for governments. (Spoiler alert: generally, no.)
Sal Perricone, Former Federal Prosecutor, Faces Formal Sanction Over Commenting Scandal: The Louisiana State Bar Association’s disciplinary board has recommended that former Eastern District of Louisiana first Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone receive a year’s suspension from the practice of law. Perricone was disciplined for online comments he made about a number of federal criminal cases in which his office was involved, including the shooting of civilians by police officers on Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina. His online comments resulted in the reversal of convictions against several officers who were involved in the shootings and the subsequent cover-up.
Ethics Corner: The Nation's Prosecutors Uphold Their Sworn Oaths: In the NAGTRI Journal, an Eastern District of Tennessee Assistant U.S. Attorney analyzes several law review articles that purport to conclude that there is an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct. He concludes that while there are occasional errors, that the data indicates that “prosecutorial misconduct occurs with admirable infrequency.”
Italy Adopts New ‘Bribe Destroyer’ Law: At the end of 2018, the Italian Parliament passed a number of laws designed to combat corruption in the public and private sector, including by requiring increased transparency in private and corporate contributions to political parties and foundations.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.