Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston-Based Attorney General Investigates Reported Political White Collar Crime

It would appear that Boston-Based Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office is on the trail of what it believes to be an upcoming white collar criminal prosecution. The target is Representative Brian P. Wallace of South Boston (hereinafter, the “Target”). It has been alleged that he violated fund-raising laws.

A spokesman for Attorney General Coakley confirmed that her office is investigating the Target , a Democrat, based on a recent finding from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance
A May 14 letter from the campaign finance office cites evidence of several misdemeanor campaign violations by the Target, his wife and others involved with his campaign.

One would expect that any prosecution will use the Target’s retirement as evidence of “Consciousness of guilt”. You see, he acknowledged knowledge that campaign finance officials were investigating him when he announced his retirement in March. However, he explained at the time that, “…[t]here is nothing nefarious there. This certainly played no part in my decision.”

He said he was retiring because he wanted to spend more time with his family and on his writing.

Well, let’s hope for the Target’s sake that he has unquestionably become “Captain Familyman” and, by the time of trial, is the picture of the prolific writer.

On the other hand, in May, the Target also acknowledged that he had some unspecified health issues and said he had lost a little bit of his political drive.

“When it’s time, you know,” he said. “I didn’t feel it in my stomach to do it anymore. If you don’t have a fire in your belly, then you really shouldn’t do it.”

Inconsistent? Well, that will be for any jury/judge to really decide. But we trial attorneys, including prosecutors, absolutely live for inconsistent statements…especially when potential consciousness of guilt is involved.

In the meantime, the Target has, at least at some point, realized that he had better hire an attorney. Said attorney is now apparently releasing the statements that need to be released as opposed to the Target himself.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance is said to refer only its most serious cases to the attorney general’s office. Most reports of violations are resolved through internal agreements or letters that can include civil penalties.

In other words, they consider the case of the Target to be one of the big ones.

We’ll see.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Once again, we have a situation wherein a loose lip can sink a criminal defense ship. If not sink it, it can at least provide some pressures and limitations which the defense can do without.

Should this matter go to trial, the Commonwealth is likely to claim that these various explanations for retirement were meant as subterfuge to avoid the fact that the retirement was because of the ongoing investigation. By giving a bunch of other reasons, the Target has painted himself into a bit of a corner.

I am no expert in politics, but I believe that, at retirement, one need not give a reason why they are calling it a day. Or, I would think, one could simply say something like, “It’s time”.

Let the rest of the world read into it what they will.

“Well, wait a minute, Sam. What if he knew he was truly innocent of any wrongdoing? Why not give these reasons…assuming they were true?”

Good point. The only thing is that one would imagine that someone involved in the political system would realize that any crimes committed by his underlings could be tied to him. Therefore, whether or not he believed himself innocent, he should know that less proclaimed the better. Further, he should also know that whether or not anyone did anything illegal, an investigation is going on!

A high profile investigation at that.

Therefore, he should know that innocent people face criminal prosecution sometimes as well as guilty ones. Sometimes they even lose. Why take the chance and complicate matters?

“Well, certainly he should be able to feel secure that if he is not guilty that he will be acquitted by the jury or judge, right?”

Wrong, actually. We would all like to think that. However, it does not always work out that way. In fact, particularly in white collar crimes, the “crime”, if committed was unintentional or an act of confusion. However, the evidence, like art, is in the eyes of the beholder. Here, the beholder is the prosecution.

Believe me…bias is alive and well and living all over the Commonwealth…on both sides of the criminal justice bench.

So, the bottom line is something you will probably find familiar if you are one of the regular readers to this daily criminal law blog.

Do not assume that it will all work out fine because you feel you are innocent. If you want the best chance possible that it will work out without you being convicted, you should take a very active part.

Hire an attorney immediately to guide you through the investigation and, if it comes to it, the prosecution.

Making the statements for you (which cannot be then used against you) is just the start of what counsel can do for you. If you wish to consult with me in a free initial consultation to find out what more we can do for you in such a matter, please feel free to give me a call at 617-492-3000 .

To view the original story upon which today’s blog was based, please go to http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/08/30/wallace_is_focus_of_ag_inquiry/?single=1&p=2

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