Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Once a power couple, Kevin and Mary McCarty pay for ill-gotten gains"

That's the headline from the strong coverage of the McCarty case - she was a Palm Beach Commissioner - from the Palm Beach Post. Here's the link:

She pleaded guilty in the morning (before judge Middlebrooks) and her husband was sentenced in the afternoon. I thought the sentencing of Kevin McCarty was interesting: Judge Ryskamp varied down from the agreed on sentence. From the article:

Ryskamp handed down a sentence shorter than prosecutors and defense had settled on in Kevin McCarty's plea agreement.

Citing a recent argument by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Ryskamp also expressed skepticism about whether the federal law against honest-services fraud should be used to take criminal action against ethics breaches that would be considered civil violations under state law.

Federal prosecutors filed an honest-services fraud charge against Mary McCarty, and they used the same law to prosecute former County Commissioners Tony Masilotti and Warren Newell.

"I am concerned about the federal court taking over violations of state ethics code and criminalizing them," Ryskamp said.

Ryskamp also called the charge against Kevin McCarty, technically known as misprision of a felony, "a seldom-used statute." But the judge added: "It is what it is: ... not only failure to speak up but active participation" in a crime.

BTW, this is the case that led to Chief Judge Moreno's recent Order on cell phones. It was the PBP that had requested permission to bring phones into the courthouse so that their reporters could blog and twitter live from inside the courtrooms. They got the phones approved. But now none of us can email, etc from inside the courtrooms.

UPDATE -- I've been told that the other reporters -- Curt Anderson, Vanessa Blum, and Jay Weaver -- have been talking to Moreno for months about being permitted to bring cell phones in. Well done guys.

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