The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
CEPI Newsletter January 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.
Michigan Judge Gets Prison Time In 'Sexual Torture' Case: Former Monroe County, Michigan, Judge Jarod Calkins was sentenced to one to five years in state prison for what prosecutors characterized as a “sexual torture” case. Calkins pled guilty to felon misconduct in office for action that included, as his victims described them, electrocuting, choking, and whipping during sexual activity. The case was prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Retired State Director Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Money Meant for César Chávez Statue: Maria Louisa Mason, who was the director of the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan for nearly 30 years before her retirement three years ago, pled guilty to embezzling tens of thousands of dollars that designated to be used for a statue honoring César Chávez. She committed the crime by transferring the funds—which were from a combination of state appropriations and private donations—into a non-profit and local community center, and then into her own personal bank accounts. Mason also agreed to pay nearly $86,000 in restitution. This case was also brought by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Lawyer Gets an Extra Two Years In Prison After Lying on Financial Affidavit: Diane Dalmy, a lawyer in Denver, Colorado, was sentenced in Connecticut federal court to an additional two years in prison—bring her total term of incarceration to five years—after she lied on a financial disclosure form she filled out after her original sentencing in May 2018. The judge found that she was willfully failing to pay restitution ordered for her role in a multi-million dollar “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme.
Police Chief: Sharing Information With Kaneshiro Not In City’s ‘Best Interest’: In Honolulu, Hawaii, Police Chief Susan Ballard has requested that she no longer be required to share law enforcement information with the city’s chief prosecutor, Keith Kaneshiro, because of public reports that he has received a target letter from federal prosecutors. Ballard replaced former police chief Louis Kealoha who, with his wife, Katherine (a former prosecutor in Kaneshiro’s office) was charged with corruption-related charges in 2017.
The Reason Prosecutors Hammered Michael Cohen Despite His Cooperation With Robert Mueller: In a piece in Slate, a law professor speculates about the reasons for rather different tones in the sentencing memoranda filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and the Special Counsel’s Office in advance of the sentencing of Michael Cohen. (Note that the professor appears to be unaware of the Second Circuit’s decision in Fernandez, a case that makes clear that federal judges have the authority to, if they wish, choose to vary or depart from the guidelines for attempts at cooperation that fall short of 5K1.1 standards).
Katy Man Pleads Guilty In Federal Bribery Scandal: Alfonso Eliezer Gravina Munoz, who worked as a procurement officer of Venezuela's state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), pled guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into bribes paid by the owner of U.S.-based companies to Venezuelan government offices. Gravina had entered into a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, but breached that agreement by withholding information and warning a coconspirator about the investigation. That coconspirator then destroyed evidence and attempted to flee.
Getting State Anticorruption Commissions to Work: Forty-four U.S. states have some form of a state anticorruption commission, including New Mexico and North Dakota, which recently amended their state constitutions to establish commissions. While the urge to create commissions to address corruption problems is understandable, the recent state constitutional amendments do not set out clearly the mandate of these new bodies, as the Global Anticorruption Blog notes. In a recent post, that blog shares its recommendations for non-partisan and effective commissions.
Why Don't We Trust Whistleblowers?: Prof. Kelly Richmond Pope writes about her TED Talk about whistleblowers. Pope is also the director of a documentary, “All the Queen’s Horses,” which explored the largest municipal fraud in history: a $53 million embezzlement that funded the horse-breeding business owned by a small town’s comptroller, who was eventually sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.
Moneyland: In an episode on Planet Money called “Moneyland,” NPR reports on kleptocracy in the Ukraine, and how then-president Viktor Yanukovych used western institutions—including by creating companies in London that owned property on his behalf—to commit fraud and theft.
Broward Judge Agrees To Reprimand for Berating Lawyer: Broward County, Florida Judge Dennis Bailey has agreed to be reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court for berating two assistant public defenders during a trial. Bailey was unhappy that both defense attorneys were speaking during a sidebar, and ordered a court deputy to return one of them to the defense table. He then invited the defense attorneys to ask for a mistrial, but then denied that motion. The defendant—who was charged with battery on a law enforcement official—was acquitted, a result that the Judicial Qualifications Commission said may have been because the jury felt sympathy for the “side” that the judge disfavored.
2018's Top 10 Troubled Lawyers and Judges in Texas: In a rather depressing year-end retrospective, Texas Lawyer compiles a list of Texas lawyers and judges who are alleged to have accepted bribes, sexually assaulted clients (or clients’ children), committed fraud, and did various other things that reflected poorly on their profession. As one prosecutor said during the sentencing of one of these “top ten,” they make “us look like the worst nightmare of the public as to what lawyers are all about.”
Practice Alert: China Asserts ‘Judicial Sovereignty’ with New Blocking Statute: China’s legislature recently passed the International Criminal Judicial Assistance Law, which could prevent individuals and entities based in China from disclosing evidence to criminal enforcement authorities outside of China without the approval of the Chinese government. The legislation may pose a barrier to investigations into crimes committed against the United States.
Ex-Colombian Official Gets Four Years in U.S. Prison For Taking Bribe in Mall Bathroom: Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, the former director of anticorruption at the Colombia Attorney General’s Office has been sentenced to four years in U.S. federal prison. He admitted that he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from a Colombian politician who was under investigation by Moreno’s office. Moreno’s sentence was reduced in light of a separate five-year sentence he must serve in Colombia for using his position to extort corrupt political targets.
Houston Executive Pleads Guilty to Lying About Lawmakers’ Trip to Baku: Kemal Oksuz, the former president of a nonprofit that ostensibly sought to improve relations between certain parts of Turkish society and the United States, pled guilty to lying about a 2013 trip to Azerbaijan for ten U.S. lawmakers and about three dozen congressional staffers. Oksuz lied about accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) to fund the trip. House travel regulations generally bar the acceptance of gifts and travel from foreign governments. The indictment describes the scheme in detail. Members of Congress who took the lavish, all-expenses-paid trip to Baku included former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in November 2018.
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.