Thursday, February 11, 2010

Judge to corruption defendants: Spill the beans

Federal Judge Terrence Boyle has made it clear that anyone convicted of corruption in his court who wants a break had better cooperate with investigators, Ben Niolet reports. Niolet was in Boyle's courtroom Wednesday when he sentenced two men who had bribed a state official to get environmental permits for an ethanol plant they were interested in, and reported this in the News & Observer:

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle was conducting a sentencing hearing Wednesday for two men who had previously pleaded guilty in a scheme to bribe a state official to secure quick permits for an Eastern North Carolina ethanol plant. One of those men, David Lee Brady, 77, asked through his attorney for a sentence that would keep him out of prison so he could take care of his wife, who has lung cancer, Alzheimer's and other serious medical problems.
Boyle spent several minutes asking why Brady did not agree to help investigators after he admitted to his role in the bribery scheme. His lawyer, Stephen Smith of Raleigh, said the investigation was nearly complete and Brady had a faulty memory.
The judge said that, in various corruption cases he has seen in the past decade, he has been disappointed that none of those charged has "spilled the beans" on wider corruption. Telling the whole truth is the first step toward making amends, Boyle said.
"I'm scouring my memory to try to recall one who has come up with open and complete disclosure," Boyle said, adding that even if Brady didn't think he had anything to add to the nearly complete federal investigation, he should have talked anyway.
U.S. Attorney George Holding interpreted Boyle's comments after court.
"To get mercy from the court, cooperation is the route," Holding told reporters.

I've spent some time watching Boyle handle both civil and criminal cases, and while most federal judges I've seen are pretty much no-nonsense jurists, Boyle is about as direct as they come. And just in case someone didn't get the message from Boyle or from Holding, here it is: public officials accused and convicted of corruption are going to get tough sentences unless they cooperate with investigators and help move the case along.

But as we've seen, cooperation doesn't always bring an immediate break. Judge James Dever first sentenced former legislator Michael Decker to 48 months in prison, a longer sentence than even prosecutors asked for after Decker helped prosecutors with their case against former Speaker Jim Black. But last summer, Dever cut Decker's sentence by 12 months. He said, "Indeed, but for Decker's cooperation, Black might still be in office."


Anonymous said...

w00t! Judges grow some! is it time to Spill the Beans on Harry and MC?

Afiz said...

Thanks for the great post
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