by Brian Mahany
Federal prosecutors asked the court this week to dismiss certain charges against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. That’s right – dismiss! More political shenanigans in Chicago? Absolutely not.
Jurors could not agree on a verdict last year after hearing the evidence in Blagojevich’s trial. The jury deadlocked on 22 counts and returned a guilty verdict on a single charge of lying to the FBI.
Smart prosecutors often attempt to streamline their case and dismiss anything that makes the case especially complicated or hard to follow. In Blogo’s case, an assistant United States attorney told the court that he wishes to dismiss 3 counts of the indictment including 2 very complex charges involving racketeering.
Judges have the final say whether or not to accept dropping charges but almost always agree. Assuming the court approves, prosecutors will likely present a much more streamlined case in April when Blagojevich is scheduled to be retried.
In 2009 I had the opportunity to meet with two of the special agents involved in the highly publicized Helio Castroneves prosecution. I met with the agents just days after a jury acquitted Castroneves of 6 counts of tax evasion and deadlocked on the conspiracy charge. Unlike the Blagojevich case, prosecutors never attempted to retry Castroneves on the single conspiracy charge.
What went wrong? According to the agents I spoke with, the case simply became too complex. Jurors got lost in detailed testimony about shell companies, deferred compensation agreements and complex tax strategies. Had the case been kept simple and involved less counts, the jury may have convicted. That’s what prosecutors are hoping when Blagojevich is retried in a few weeks.
Why is this important for all people accused of white-collar crimes? Good criminal defense lawyers will understand these dynamics and attempt to exert some influence at preindictment charging conferences. Many criminal lawyers never bother to seek or attend such a conference.
Strategy doesn’t start on the day of trial; it begins long before a client is ever even charged.
Mahany & Ertl is a boutique law firm that defends those accused of white-collar crimes (tax evasion, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering). We also help victims of fraud recover their hard earned money and assist people and businesses having problems with the IRS.
Our white-collar criminal defense attorneys have represented people across the U.S. from Seattle to Portland, Maine. Unlike many of other law firms, we prepare for trial and don’t look at these cases as quick plea bargains. Our goal is to show the government risk from the day we enter a case and right through trial if necessary.
For a no obligation, no nonsense review of your case, contact Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 or through the website.