Friday, July 29, 2011
“I do not think it’s an accident those notes were destroyed,” Fetterhoff said. (Patriot News, 7/27/11)
Neither do we, Bill. Neither do we.
Courts have consistently and unequivocally ruled that defendants are entitled to notes from interviews, or proffer statements, conducted during a criminal investigation.
In fact, such a ruling was part of the criminal trial of former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon.
Judge Richard Lewis, who just today rejected a motion to dismiss the charges against former Rep. John Perzel and seven staffers, did not make that ruling in the Veon case. He deferred that decision to Judge Barry Fuedale, who supervised the grand jury that indicted Veon.
Fuedale ordered prosecutors to turn over proffer notes to Veon's lawyers. The very same prosecutors who then destroyed notes from 94 interviews in the Perzel case.
Prosecutors apparently are now lying that the notes were turned over to Veon "by mistake." It was no mistake; they were ordered to turn them over.
There is, quite simply, no way that prosecutors didn't know that the defendants were entitled to those notes. And they destroyed them anyway. In the immortal words of Vice President Joe Biden, this is a big f-ing deal.
It will be years before an appeals court has an opportunity to review Lewis' decision, given that the Perzel trial is expected to take at least six months and it's unlikely it even will begin until 2012. Governor Tom Corbett, who as Attorney General supervised the investigation and cruised into office on the publicity, will be safely past his reelection campaign by then.
And while we agree with Fetterhoff that the notes were deliberately destroyed, we don't think it's because they exonerate the defendants. But rather, because they might reveal the embarrassingly selective nature of the prosecutors' investigation - just as the evidence turned over to the Veon defense revealed.
Is there any doubt that prosecutors would have destroyed, had they known the embarrassment it would cause, the "U R welcome" email written by then-House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese, never indicted in connection with bonuses for campaigning, in response to a staffer thanking him for the "bonus for campaigning?"
Or the emails showing that DeWeese and his top aides, who were not indicted for working on campaign issues with a state-paid contractor, in fact worked on campaign issues with a state-paid contractor?
Or that he based state hiring decisions on campaign work?
Or evidence that the unindicted then-Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Todd Eachus directed staff to produce political research and perform political work, acquiesced to paying bonuses for campaign work, and coordinated "official" appearances by Cabinet secretaries in the districts of vulnerable incumbents?
Or documents and emails showing that unindicted Rep. Keith McCall, later Speaker of the House, used state staff and resources for campaign work?
Is there any doubt that, if they had it to do over again, prosecutors would have destroyed, rather than highlighted in black(!) documents that showed how DeWeese staffers, never indicted on charges of destroying evidence, scrambled to destroy evidence in 2007?
And how much did prosecutors wish they had destroyed the evidence that showed the very man who decided for them what evidence would be used to prosecute the original 12 "Bonusgate" defendants is, essentially, a megalomaniacal nutjob?
It's dangerous to let defendants have access to too much evidence. Better to get rid of it.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
We must admit, we are baffled by the latest demands of professional attention whores Tim Potts and Eric Epstein. They're calling on the Office of Attorney General to make further arrests in the "ongoing" investigation of the legislature known as "Bonusgate."
Is Linda L. Kelly running for higher office?
We're not ruling out that a carefully-selected Senate scapegoat might face token charges, just to allay suspicion that the Senate was completely overlooked - even though Senate staffers who worked on campaigns received some of the largest bonuses in the legislature.
But even professional attention whores can't pull off the pretense that the Office of Attorney General led by then-gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett ever seriously and thoroughly investigated the Senate - or that any 11th-hour charges that might be filed are the result of a serious and thorough investigation of the Senate.
Corbett's refusal to investigate a member of the Senate even after a whistleblower's complaint - much less the fact that he didn't discover the wrongdoing on his own - is sufficient proof that the Senate never was a target.
Even stronger proof is that Corbett aborted his investigation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board without filing any charges. With the Gaming Board, as with the Senate Republican Caucus, all roads lead to Bob Jubelirer and David "Chip" Brightbill. And Corbett certainly wasn't planning on going there.
As leaders of the powerful Senate majority, they held strong sway over the Gaming Control Board. Very little happened without their approval. It would be difficult to make a case for criminality among the Board - much less the Senate Repbulican Caucus - without implicating Jubelierer or Brightbill. (Look what happened when he tried to leave Bill DeWeese out of House Democratic indictments. Team Corbett may not be geniuses, but they do learn their lessons)
Brightbill, at least, understood this from the beginning. In September 2007, Brightbill created the Great Valley Leadership Fund for the sole purpose of disguising a $6,000 contribution to Corbett's campaign. The $6,000 was, at the time, the only contribution to the PAC - from Brightbill - and the only contribution from the PAC - to Corbett. Corbett didn't return the contribution until seven months later, after questions were raised. But there certainly were other avenues though which Brightbill could pay tribute - According to Capitolwire, Team Corbett reassured Senate Democrats that contributions laundered through the coffers of running mate Jim Cawley would not be returned.
This tangled mess have been avoided if Corbett had done the right thing from the beginning and appointed an independent prosecutor. Nearly five years later, we remain flabbergasted that the press and public passively accepted Corbett's insistence upon investigating his own political adversaries and allies - even as they acknowledged the political advantage he gained from the investigation. Especially since he campaigned on the very same issue.