The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
CEPI Newsletter May 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.
The Puerto Rico Forensic Science Project, a partnership between NAAG and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, completed its most recent mission to Puerto Rico on May 3. Many thanks to the more than 28 volunteers which included Attorneys General Lawrence Wasden (Idaho) and Maura Healey (Massachusetts), four forensic anthropologists, 10 forensic pathologists, eight forensic pathology technicians/ assistants, and two forensic scientists and to the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, the National Association of Medical Examiners, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Thanks also to HHS for supporting the trip.
Awash in Cannabis Cash, California Struggling with Corruption: An article describes several recent federal and state cases in California involving cannabis sellers and growers allegedly bribing or trying to bribe government officers, or public officials committing crimes that were connected to the marijuana industry.
Ex-Maine Lawmaker Gets 10 Years in Prison for Stealing from Elderly Widows: Former Maine state legislator Robert Kenneth Lindell has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing more than $3 million from two elderly widows. After a November 2018 trial, he was convicted by a jury of charges that included security fraud and failure to pay state income tax. The case was charged and tried by the Maine Attorney General's Office.
Thirteen Springfield Police Officers Arraigned in Connection with Alleged Nathan Bill's Beating and Cover-Up: The Massachusetts Attorney Generalâ€™s Office has charged 13 current and former Springfield police officers in connection with an alleged beating of four men by off-duty police officers in 2015. The officers are charged with either participating in the beating, which occurred outside of an establishment named Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant, or in a subsequent cover-up. The charges follow a decision by a district attorney's office not to bring charges because it concluded there was a lack of reliable identifications by the victims.
Appellate Division Remands Case Back to Court for Resentencing On Corruption Charges: A prosecutor's office in New Jersey successfully appealed a sentence, arguing that two former employees of the New Brunswick Parking Authority deserved a statutory mandatory minimum sentence for failing to report or prevent other employees from stealing thousands of dollars in parking fees. The appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in not requiring them to serve at least five years in state prison.
Former Tax Secretary Wants Corruption Charge Tossed Due to Coffeepot Recording Device: A former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary has filed a motion to dismiss her charges, claiming that her rights were violated when a conversation she had with her attorney was surreptitiously recorded by a device planted in a coffeepot. Prosecutors argued that dismissal was inappropriate as the device did not record that conversation. The New Mexico Attorney General's Office charged the case.
Lancaster County Doctor Tied to Schools Is Charged In 4 New Sexual Assault Cases; AG Sets Up Hotline: The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has charged a doctor with touching minors' genitals during sports massages. The office has set up a hotline for other potential victims to call. Beginning in at least the early 1990s and through earlier this year, the doctor worked for a number of different school districts in Pennsylvania.
Pa. Police Chief Allegedly Raped Child Hundreds of Times Over 7 Years, Along with Friend: The 27-year old Chief of the Weissport Police Department and his 28-year old friend have been charged by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office with raping a child. The charges allege that the pair abused the child beginning when she was only four years old, and continued for seven years.
Criminal Defense Attorney Convicted of Conspiracy Regarding Fake Letter: New York criminal defense attorney Scott Brettschneider was convicted of lying to the federal Bureau of Prisons in an effort to reduce a client's sentence. Brettschneider worked with two other men to fake a letter that falsely stated that his client was dependent on drugs, a ploy that could have facilitated an early release for the client.
N.C. Bribery Case Latest to Ensnare Campaign Practitioners in Financial Malfeasance: In North Carolina, the head of a state political party and an insurance executive have been charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and bribery. Federal prosecutors allege that Robert Hayes, Greg Lindberg, and others attempted to bribe North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with $2 million to support his 2020 reelection campaign in exchange for his agreement to fire the insurance commissioner deputy that had oversight over Lindberg's company, or to hire one of Lindberg's cronies to oversee that deputy. When approached about the scheme, Causey went to law enforcement authorities, who set up a sting that included outfitting him with a recording device that he wore during several meetings with the conspirators.
DOJ Outsourced Deutsche Libor Probe to Paul Weiss: Judge: In a decision that may prove problematic to offices that use the services of private firm special counsel, or to cases where a corporation compelled an employee to be interviewed, a federal judge criticizes the U.S. Department of Justice for relying on a large firm to complete much of its a criminal investigation.
4 Times Public Defenders Landed In Ethical Hot Water: Law360 summarizes several instances of public defenders choosing the wrong ethical path, including: the Arizona lawyer who represented Jody Arias, who quit the practice of law rather than defend himself against allegations he had revealed privileged information in a book he wrote about representing his famous client; an Illinois public defender who made unwelcome sexual advances on his clients; a longtime public defender in Washington who intentionally took on more cases than he could competently handle in an effort to make more money; and a handful of lawyers in Iowa who bilked the state out of nearly half a million dollars by overbilling. (The prosecutor in the Arias case is also continuing to face ethics complaints.)
Looping in PR Firm Nixed Atty Privilege in Suit Against Target: In a decision that may have relevance to attorneys general who communicate with people not employed by their office about otherwise-privileged information, a judge in New York has concluded that emails between a client and attorney are not protected by attorney-client privilege or the work-product doctrine because they included members of a third-party public relations firm.
Iowa Supreme Court Revokes License from Drug-Dealing Attorney: The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board has revoked the license of a former assistant city attorney and criminal defense attorney who pled guilty to federal marijuana charges in 2017. In denying his request for a suspension, the judges noted that his disrespect for law and law enforcement was particularly troubling given his employment as a city attorney and his criminal defense private practice representing persons charged with drug crimes.
How Quinn Emanuel Partner Joe Milowic Plunged to the Depths of Depression but Inspired Other Lawyers to Believe in Themselves: A law firm partner who suffered from depression chose to share his struggles with others a year ago in a public piece that received substantial attention, and has now launched the Lawyers Depression Project to support attorneys with mental health problems. Nearly one in three lawyers suffer from depression, and around one in five suffer from anxiety, stress, and/or substance abuse.
Adam Leitman Bailey Suspended from Practicing Law for 4 Months: A real estate attorney has been suspended from the practice of law in New York for, among other things, telling a tenant who rented from a building owned by his client that he should kill himself. The tenant had posted on a public website allegations that the attorney's client had overcharged tenants.
Lawyer Who Practiced Law for Much of Her More-Than-15-Year Suspension Likely to Be Reinstated to Bar in 2020: A New York lawyer who registered as an attorney in 1987 but never completed the biennial registration, paid her bar fees, or updated her address all requirements of the New York Bar has been suspended. During this time, she worked for 15 years as an arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and held other jobs that required her to be an active member of the bar.
General Counsel at Bowling Green State University Ordered to Jail in Contempt of Court: The general counsel at Bowling Green State University has been sentenced to one month in jail after his divorce court judge concluded he acted unprofessional and intimidating and lacked credibility. (That sentence has been suspended during his appeal.) The lawyer, who because of his position at the university is an assistant attorney general, has also been suspended by the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Wrongfully Convicted Ex-Judge Wins Ruling in Malicious Prosecution Lawsuit: In a decision important for its treatment of prosecutors entitlement to absolute or qualified immunity, a federal court in Texas ruled that former 380th District Judge Suzanne Wooten's civil case against the prosecutors who investigated and prosecuted her may proceed. Wooten had been convicted at trial and disbarred; after her co-defendants successfully appealed their convictions, she had her conviction overturned and her law license reinstated. The court ruled that Wooten's case against, among others, the former district attorney and former attorney general as well as the assistant district attorney and assistant attorney general who handled the caseâ€”could proceed because the prosecutors had been directly involved in the investigation. The decision also notes, in a footnote, that Wooten cites a statute defining the role that the attorney general's office may play when assisting a district attorney's office, and alleges that state prosecutors acted outside of this authority which is another argument of potential interest to state corruption prosecutors.
Updated FinCEN Advisory Warns Against Continued Corrupt Venezuelan Attempts to Steal, Hide, or Launder Money: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued an alert to financial institutions about widespread corruption in Venezuela and the methods its politicians are expected to use to move and hide proceeds of their corruption.
TRACE: How the GDPR Interferes with Anti-Corruption Compliance: An article analyzes how the EU's General Data Protection Regulations might hinder the fight against corruption by, among other things, making it difficult to conduct due diligence before engaging in transactions with potentially corruption countries, companies, or individuals.
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.