News Roundup

As the New York Times reports, the major criminal law news of the week was the sudden withdrawal of four federal prosecutors from Roger Stone’s criminal case after senior Justice Department officials intervened to recommend a sentence that was more lenient than what had been recommended by the prosecution team.  Stone was convicted by a Washington, D.C., jury of seven criminal offenses late last year, including five counts of lying to congress, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction.  Keep reading for more news.

Amended Recommendation. On Monday, the prosecutors who handled the Stone case recommended that he be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison, a recommendation that apparently is within federal sentencing guidelines.  On Tuesday, President Donald Trump called the sentencing recommendation “a horrible and very unfair situation,” and Timothy J. Shea, who was appointed Interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia a week earlier, filed an amendment stating that the seven to nine year range “would not be appropriate” and suggesting that a term “far less” than the initial recommendation “would be reasonable under the circumstances.”  On Wednesday, President Trump congratulated Attorney General William Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control.”  In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, Barr said that President Trump’s tweets about Department of Justice criminal cases “make it impossible for [Barr] to do [his] job.”

Prosecutors.  As noted above, four of the assistant U.S. attorneys who prosecuted the Stone case withdrew from it following the filing of the amended sentencing recommendation.  One of the prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, resigned from the Department of Justice entirely while the other three, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, and Michael Marando remain with the DOJ but are off of the Stone case.

Say Something.  Last year the NewsRoundup noted that North Carolina schools were partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to provide a statewide tip line known as “Say Something” for people to anonymously report safety issues at middle and high schools in the state.  Earlier this month ABC 11 reported that almost half of the school districts in the state now are using Say Something and that the remaining districts should be connected by this spring.

Jail Death.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that a man who was in pretrial detention at the Guilford County Jail was found dead of an apparent suicide over the weekend.  The News & Record says that Herbert Junior Wilson was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree arson and domestic trespass in the early hours of Friday morning.  He was under a domestic violence hold and placed in a cell at 5:30am.  At 6:59am, detention officers observed that Wilson had attempted suicide and he was transported by ambulance to a hospital where he later died.

Rockingham Settlement.  Rockingham Now reports that a $1.2 million settlement has been reached in a civil wrongful death suit arising from a fatal officer-involved shooting in May 2016.  Todd Burroughs was shot and killed during an altercation with Rockingham County sheriff’s deputies that followed an attempted traffic stop.  An SBI investigation of the incident concluded that the use of force was justified.  According to the order approving the settlement, the defendants in the civil suit, Sheriff Sam Page, Deputy Frank Martin and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, “specifically denied liability and entered into the settlement only to avoid the expenses, delays, and uncertainties of continued litigation.” 

Admissions Scandal Sentence.  MarketWatch reports that this week a federal judge in Boston imposed the longest sentence yet in the college admissions bribery and fraud scandal that various celebrities and business leaders participated in so that their children would be admitted to elite universities.  Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of Pimco, was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay a $750,000 fine, a punishment that according to the sentencing judge reflected a “discount” attributable to Hodge’s significant philanthropic donations over many years.  Hodge pleaded guilty last year to paying $850,000 in bribes in order to have four of his children admitted to Georgetown and USC under the false representation that they were sports recruits.

Huawei.  The Associate Press reports that the U.S. Department of Justice brought additional criminal charges against Chinese technology company Huawei this week, accusing the firm of racketeering and plotting to steal trade secrets from American competitors.  Huawei already had been indicted in federal court in Brooklyn and Seattle for allegedly lying to banks about deals that violated economic sanctions and for other allegations of trade secret theft.

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