Family Corruption In The Big Easy

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State’s List of Witnesses Grow in Zuma Case

Posted by familydynamics on January 1, 2008

The state has identified a list of 218 witnesses it intends calling to testify in its case against the African National Congress president Jacob Zuma.

Attached to the indictment, filed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the list of witnesses includes Independent Democrat party leader Patricia de Lille, former Judge Willem Heath and former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein.

The indictment was filed on Friday, shortly after midday as Zuma was about to hand out presents to children in his home district of Nkandla.

Zuma faces 16 charges in total – one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.


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Is Corporate Corruption Widespread?

Posted by familydynamics on December 2, 2007

Justice Department officials estimate that there are about 60 cases under investigation or prosecution in the United States, with a new, five-member FBI team dedicated to examining possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group based in Paris that represents 30 industrialized countries, there are more than 150 prosecutions or investigations worldwide involving possible bribery of government officials for commercial gain.

While law enforcement officials and governments in disparate jurisdictions once hesitated to work together to combat corporate fraud, graft has come to be seen as such a severe impediment to global economic growth that cooperation is becoming more frequent.

Analysts say that this shift, along with the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley law tightening corporate oversight – and a greater willingness among companies themselves to tackle corruption – has also begun to change how many corporations operate in poorer, developing countries where graft has been most detrimental.

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Punishment For Silence

Posted by familydynamics on November 22, 2007

oliver-thomas.jpgFormer New Orleans City Councilman, Oliver Thomas, received a 37 month prison term, today, for receiving a bribe from convicted political operative Stan “Pampy” Barre.


Mr. Thomas sentence could have been lighter if he would have cooperated with the continuing probe of public corruption.

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Will Not Be Given A Cooperation Letter

Posted by familydynamics on November 19, 2007

oliver-thomas.jpgLess than four months after he shocked New Orleanians by pleading guilty to accepting bribes while in office, former City Councilman Oliver Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced this week.

Observers called the quick sentencing a clear sign that Thomas, who resigned his at-large council seat after his plea in federal court, has given investigators little or no information to aid other public corruption probes.

The sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m., four days after city voters elected former City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson to replace Thomas and serve the two-plus years remaining in the term.

Thomas will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, who, if history is a guide, may have stern words for him. When the councilman entered his plea in August, Vance called his actions “a body blow to a community that is already reeling under a wave of public corruption,” adding: “If this city is ever to recover, we have to have an end to this type of venality.”

Though he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, Thomas is likely to receive far less for various reasons, including his previously clean record, his admission of guilt and the relatively small amount of money, about $20,000, that he confessed to taking.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence in the range of 30 to 37 months based on the offenses Thomas admitted, according to Tulane law professor and former federal prosecutor Tania Tetlow. Federal judges are no longer required to follow sentencing guidelines.

However, it appears unlikely he will receive extra leniency in exchange for providing what federal law calls “substantial assistance” in the investigation or prosecution of another person, according to courthouse observers. Were that the case, prosecutors would have almost certainly asked Vance to delay Thomas’ sentencing.

“When someone is cooperating, you usually see one or two motions to continue,” said Loyola Law School professor Dane Ciolino. “The purpose is to make sure he cooperates as expected, and that he testifies as expected.”

“The government has a policy of waiting (to sentence a convict) until after he has testified,” agreed lawyer Julian Murray, a former federal prosecutor. “It doesn’t mean he hasn’t given them some information that was helpful, but it’s unlikely he’ll testify in another case.”

Not only does a delay ensure prosecutors the testimony they seek, it gives them time to complete the paperwork to request a downward departure, often known as a cooperation letter, or a 5K1 after the section of the federal sentencing code that describes it.

That Thomas’ sentencing appears to be on schedule is a “pretty good suggestion that he is not cooperating — or at least has not been able to deliver any additional wrongdoers to the government,” Ciolino said.

In contrast, Ciolino noted, convicted restaurateur and political operative Stan “Pampy” Barre, — who helped provide the government with the evidence it needed to prosecute Thomas — still awaits sentencing.

Barre pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to skim more than $1 million from a large City Hall energy contract awarded by former Mayor Marc Morial. His sentencing, now set for January, has been delayed numerous times.

Thomas’ lawyer, Clarence Roby, said he couldn’t discuss the details of Thomas’ conversations with investigators. But he hinted that his client hadn’t provided the government much information, and he said he doesn’t expect any delay in the sentencing.

“He’s cooperated the best he could,” Roby said of Thomas. “But unlike Stan Barre and others, he didn’t necessarily walk in saying, ‘Let me tell you about every corrupt act I’ve ever witnessed.’ He’s in an unenviable position. But he’s taken responsibility for his misdeeds.”

MORAL OF THE STORY: He who cannot provide testimony about other’s wrongdoing, do not get a break in sentencing.

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Yes, I’m Guilty

Posted by familydynamics on November 16, 2007

perrymason2.jpgThe fictional lawyer, Perry Mason, was always able to get his clients off because the real perpetrator use to break down on the stand or either in the courtroom and admit guilt. In reality though, most cases are resolved through plea bargaining.


The plea bargain was a prosecutorial tool used only episodically before the 19th century. In America, it can be traced almost to the very emergence of public prosecution — and public prosecution, although not exclusive to the U.S., developed earlier and more broadly here than most places. But because judges, not prosecutors, controlled most sentencing, plea bargaining was limited to those rare cases in which prosecutors could unilaterally dictate a defendant’s sentence.


Not until the crush of civil litigation brought on by the explosion of personal-injury cases in the industrial era did judges begin to appreciate the workload relief plea bargaining promised. In other words, plea bargaining is arguably another outgrowth of late-19th-century industrialization. The following examples illustrates this point:

1633: Galileo gets house arrest from the Inquisition in exchange for his reciting penitential psalms weekly and recanting Copernican heresies.

1931: Al Capone brags about his light sentence for pleading guilty to tax evasion and Prohibition violations. The judge then declares that he isn’t bound by the bargain, and Capone does seven and a half years in Alcatraz.

1969: To avoid execution, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. and gets 99 years.

1973: Spiro Agnew resigns the vice presidency and pleads no contest to the charge of failing to report income; he gets three years’ probation and a $10,000 fine (roughly one-third of the amount at issue).

1990: Facing serious federal charges of insider trading, Michael Milken pleads to lesser charges of securities fraud; soon after, his 10-year sentence is reduced to 2 years.

So does the guilty really pay for their crime?

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