PR Mill Shuts Down When DOJ Loses a Case
August 17, 2016
The authors discuss a case in which the U.S. Department of Justice indicted four retired Army National Guard colonels, one of whom became their firm’s client, on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and honest services fraud.
The indictments followed seven years of investigation. The government issued a joint press release on behalf of three federal law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, and in it the defendants’ alleged behavior was castigated and the agencies’ efforts to root out public corruption was praised: “It is unconscionable,” said the release, “how these former military officers betrayed the offices they once held for monetary gain.”
Less than a year later, after the defendants incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and lost their company, a jury acquitted all of them on every charge.
The authors take the government to task for failing to issue a press release or any other type of statement to announce that the men had been acquitted on all charges. Nor, they point out, was the press release announcing the indictment and claiming the defendants’ had betrayed their offices taken off the websites of two of the investigating agencies.
The public has an interest in learning that the agencies’ conclusions were not accepted by a jury. How, the authors ask, is the public to assess whether the Department is utilizing its resources wisely when it announces charges, convictions, and sentences, yet acts like acquittals never occur?
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