Anyway, some interesting stories this morning:
1. Jay Weaver covers the sentencing before Judge Lenard on the Frank Duran Venezuelan suitcase trial. Here's the intro:
A rich businessman convicted of working as an illegal Venezuelan agent in the United States says he should be sent to prison for no more than three years, asserting that the judge in the case said he and his co-defendants had done no harm to this country.
Franklin Duran, who will be sentenced Monday, was the only defendant among five Latin American men indicted in 2007 to fight charges at trial that they had come to South Florida to cover up a hemispheric political scandal.
The men were charged with working on behalf of Venezuela's spy agency to silence a colleague who had been caught with a suitcase stuffed with $800,000. Prosecutors say the money was a gift from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavéz to Argentina's new president.
In November, a federal jury found Duran, 41, guilty of conspiring and operating as an illegal foreign agent who failed to register with the U.S. government -- a pair of offenses that carry up to 15 years in prison.
2. Vanessa Blum discusses the "honest services" statute here in connection with the Palm Beach Commissioner Mary McCarty. Milton Hirsch has this funny quote:
But some defense lawyers complain the law is too vague and public officials have no warning what conduct might land them behind bars."When someone is accused of stealing a box of apples, we know what that is," said Milton Hirsch, a Miami defense attorney. "When someone is accused of stealing the public's right to honest services, what does that even mean?"
3. Speaking of Milton Hirsch, he is running for Circuit Court judge in state court. First fundraiser is February 3 at my office. Email me off-line if you are interested in helping Milt out.
4. And for our out-of-district news, check out this very disturbing NY Times article about a sheriff in Alabama who kept inmates in jail starving so he could make a few extra bucks. And the law may have allowed for it!! Here's the intro:
The prisoners in the Morgan County jail here were always hungry. The sheriff, meanwhile, was getting a little richer. Alabama law allowed it: the chief lawman could go light on prisoners’ meals and pocket the leftover change.
And that is just what the sheriff, Greg Bartlett, did, to the tune of $212,000 over the last three years, despite a state food allowance of only $1.75 per prisoner per day.
In the view of a federal judge, who heard testimony from the hungry inmates, the sheriff was in “blatant” violation of past agreements that his prisoners be properly cared for.
“There was undisputed evidence that most of the inmates had lost significant weight,” the judge, U. W. Clemon of Federal District Court in Birmingham, said Thursday in an interview. “I could not ignore them.”
So this week, Judge Clemon ordered Sheriff Bartlett himself jailed until he came up with a plan to adequately feed prisoners more, anyway, than a few spoonfuls of grits, part of an egg and a piece of toast at breakfast, and bits of undercooked, bloody chicken at supper.
You gotta read the whole article. Crazy.