Wednesday, July 8, 2009
DUDE, WHERE'S MY EVIDENCE?
We've just finished conferring with our spies in the courtroom for yesterday's hearing on pretrial motions filed by the Bonusgate defendants.
While most of the media coverage centered on the motion to dismiss the charges based on "selective prosecution," we found the revelations about how evidence was gathered much more interesting.
Get this: not one of the battalion of lawyers representing the Office of Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett had any idea what the OAG requested in the subpoenas served on the House Democratic Caucus in 2007. Did they request certain computer hard drives? Did they request electronic copies of e-mails between particular members, or sent during a particular time period? Did they request specific memos or documents?
They don't know.
Lawyers for Mike Veon contend that Corbett allowed then-House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese to choose his own scapegoats, scouring the caucus computer system for evidence that implicated those scapegoats alone. They contend that a thorough search of the caucus' hard drives and servers would have implicated others - DeWeese in particular. But no such search was conducted.
Robert Soop, supervisory agent of the OAG's legislative corruption investigation, testified as much at a preliminary hearing for two of the defendants in October:
Q: What I am more interested in is, who gave you this?
A: Who gave us the actual e-mails?
A: It was negotiated -- my understanding is, it was negotiated through representation from the House.
Q: So the House Democratic Caucus gave you the e-mails?
A: Specifically, Mr. Chadwick would have been involved in that process.
Q: You can't testify under oath here today that these e-mails came from any computer in particular? You don't have the IP address to trace it to a particular computer, correct?
A: The House gave them to us, and these e-mails were obtained as a result of the system at the House.
Q: That's not my question. My question is you didn't go to the particular hard drive of Mr. Veon's computer, or Miss Rosepink's computer and you as law enforcement did not retrieve these e-mails from those hard drives, according to your testimony?
A: I personally did not do that, no.
Q: Nor did any law enforcement person? It was the House Democratic Caucus, according to your testimony?
A: Again, I was not involved in that process. That is my understanding of how it took place.
Umm...hey, OJ? Can you let us know if you find anything suspicious?
Agent Soop was subpoenaed to testify at yesterday's hearing, but Judge Richard A. Lewis temporarily blocked all subpoenas while he considers whether he will hear testimony on the motion to dismiss based on selective prosecution. Those subpoenaed to testify on other motions, including Agent Soop, still could be required to appear no matter how Lewis rules on the selective prosecution motion.
Veon's lawyers argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to introduce the e-mails that DeWeese turned over unless they can authenticate them. Based on Agent Soop's October testimony, it appears they can not.
It's very clear to Team CasablancaPA that DeWeese did just as Veon's lawyers contend. As we have pointed out before, we already know that DeWeese failed to turn over a large cache of e-mails that were later discovered, printed out, in an office previously occupied by caucus attorney Bill Sloane. Sloane facilitated the caucus' response to subpoenas in 2007. According to the Post-Gazette, many of the e-mails appear to implicate DeWeese and those in DeWeese's inner circle.
We also know DeWeese failed to turn over about 200 emails that show his top two aides, Kevin Sidella and Tom Andrews, directing a taxpayer-funded contractor to perform campaign work. Corbett noted in a presentment last year that DeWeese himself corresponded with the same state contractor on campaign matters. Rather than pursue charges Corbett inexplicably praised DeWeese for using his campaign e-mail account.
We don't know what other evidence DeWeese withheld, and more importantly, we don't know why Corbett allowed DeWeese to determine the course of the investigation. We do know that DeWeese turned over the e-mails only after Corbett granted someone immunity under a sealed order.
Meanwhile, Judge Lewis is expected to decide this week whether to hear testimony on the "selective prosecution" motion, and rumors are rampant that Corbett is desperate to defang Veon's allegation by sprinkling a few more indictments around the Capitol (Or, at least, by creating the impression that he will).