pageok
pageok
pageok
Spitzer Will Not Be Charged:

Story here.

MCM (mail):
Traditional American approach to prostitution. Arrest the pimps and prostitutes, but whatever you do, don't prosecute the john!
11.6.2008 4:50pm
Jay Phillips (mail):
The government owes it to citizens to throw its full weight against those public officials who abuse their positions for personal gain. Spitzer ruthlessly attacked private citizens and should be treated no better. At least let the US Attorney drain his fortune as he has done to countless others.
11.6.2008 4:57pm
Malvolio:
It has (almost) nothing to do with prostitution and (almost) nothing to do with what a slimeball Spitzer is personally or professionally. He laundered money, he should go to jail for money-laundering! Is this hard to understand for some reason?
11.6.2008 5:00pm
Nunzio:
Sound prosecutorial discretion here. It would have been nice had Spitzer exercised the same approach instead of stepping on people to make headlines.
11.6.2008 5:01pm
wfjag:
WWLCD?*

*(What Would Larry Craig Do?)
11.6.2008 5:12pm
Edmund Unneland (mail) (www):
Perhaps I'm going a little towards the tinfoil hat crowd with this one, but it seems no coincidence that the day after Election Day was chosen for this announcement. On the other hand, perhaps Garcia was being very careful to not do anything that might tip the election (per the handbook for federal prosecutions). It just seems a bit odd.
11.6.2008 5:12pm
Hoosier:
wfjag

WTF?*

*(WTF?)
11.6.2008 5:13pm
Justin (mail):
And he still resigned. Senator Vitter must be thinking, "Oh, what a sucker!"
11.6.2008 5:14pm
CJColucci:
Ms. Dupree could afford Don Buchwald? I'm a lawyer, and I couldn't afford him. I'm in the wrong business.
11.6.2008 5:18pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Traditional American approach to prostitution. Arrest the pimps and prostitutes, but whatever you do, don't prosecute the john!"

The fewer people arrested for prostitution, the better.
11.6.2008 5:19pm
BZ (mail):
Best line of the article:

"Ashley is pleased that this matter is behind her."
11.6.2008 5:27pm
MCM (mail):
"Traditional American approach to prostitution. Arrest the pimps and prostitutes, but whatever you do, don't prosecute the john!"

The fewer people arrested for prostitution, the better.

In general, I agree. There is a history of misogynistic baggage attached to this topic, however, which traditionally manifests in precisely this way.
11.6.2008 5:31pm
RLS (mail):
Wow. Not enough evidence to convict, but enough that he resigned? What, they couldn't wring a confession out of him after he admitted the crime? Oh, but they have a practice of not prosecuting johns. That sure seems fair to the women, involved, doesn't it?

Someday our rulers will live under the standards that the rest of us must live under. Until then, there's the "justice" system.
11.6.2008 5:37pm
Observer:
Are Democrats ever charged for criminal offenses?
11.6.2008 5:38pm
Nathan_M (mail):

"Traditional American approach to prostitution. Arrest the pimps and prostitutes, but whatever you do, don't prosecute the john!"

The fewer people arrested for prostitution, the better.

I agree in principle, but what seems to be happening is that wealthy, powerful men get off scot free while the vulnerable woman they patronize go to jail. That looks pretty bad.

And in practice, it eliminates much of the political pressure to reform the laws. If prostitution laws only punish marginalized people without political power, who will oppose them? As I see it, it's like drugs laws. Middle class (mostly white) kids get off relatively easy, so there's no political pressure to reform the laws so everyone is treated fairly.
11.6.2008 5:42pm
Hoosier:
He won't be punished by the state. But DAMN did his wife look pissed!
11.6.2008 5:44pm
Calderon:
I never quite understood what federal crimes he could be charged with besides the Mann Act for having whatever-her name-was cross state borders to "be" with him. The article also mentions money laundering. I completely admit I'm not familiar with the federal money laundering statute, but when I think of money laundering it's taking illegally earned funds and putting them through a process that hides their illegal source. Especially if he wasn't using state funds to buy her services, what could the money laundering charge be?
11.6.2008 5:47pm
Hoosier:
Nathan

As I see it, it's like drugs laws. Middle class (mostly white) kids get off relatively easy, so there's no political pressure to reform the laws so everyone is treated fairly.

I wrestle with this one. And not just wehn it comes to kids, but also on the issue of crack versus power cocaine.

it's crack, not coke, that causes so much damage and violence in the poorest neighborhoods. Unequal arrests and sentences are unfair. At the same time, the respective impact of the two crimes is not at all the same. Those arrested in possession of crack are most likely to victimize the poor, not the middle classes.

Is that enough reason to treat the vialators so differently? I don't know.
11.6.2008 5:48pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
So, he got his happy ending.

Calderon, I think they were looking at him for structuring, or "smurfing" -- deliberately altering transactions to make them less than $10,000 to avoid the IRS reporting requirements. They probably thought they couldn't prove the requisite intent -- that he was structuring transactions to avoid IRS reporting, as opposed to structuring transactions to avoid people finding out that he was paying whores for bareback.
11.6.2008 5:49pm
xx:
He no longer gets to be governor because he slept with a prostitute. What's the normal penalty for being a john, a few hundred dollar fine?
11.6.2008 5:50pm
anon23:
MCM:

Traditional American approach to prostitution. Arrest the pimps and prostitutes, but whatever you do, don't prosecute the john!

Nathan_M:

I agree in principle, but what seems to be happening is that wealthy, powerful men get off scot free while the vulnerable woman they patronize go to jail. That looks pretty bad.


I don't see any indication that Ms. Dupree is being charged, just the organizers of the ring. Her lawyer makes it sound as if she's rather pleased with the outcome.

IIRC, the four persons who have been charged by the Feds were four organizers, who made substantial amounts of money in the process, and also committed federal money laundering offenses.

I concur that this is an example of sound prosecutorial discretion, especially since I believe Federal prosecutors should generally focus on the big ticket/interstate items rather that completely federalize all law enforcement.
11.6.2008 5:52pm
Calderon:
Calderon, I think they were looking at him for structuring, or "smurfing" -- deliberately altering transactions to make them less than $10,000 to avoid the IRS reporting requirements. They probably thought they couldn't prove the requisite intent -- that he was structuring transactions to avoid IRS reporting, as opposed to structuring transactions to avoid people finding out that he was paying whores for bareback.

Thanks; is structuring withdrawals or transfers to avoid the $10k limit in and of itself a crime, even if (say) the money was legitimately earned and is being used for a legitimate purpose? Let's say I hate debt, believe the IRS has no business snooping in my finances so long as I pay taxes are required, and so withdraw $9,500 three times so I can be a $28,500 car -- have I committed a crime?
11.6.2008 5:57pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Just awful. The entire point of that sting and wiretap operation was to leak the details to the press and kick him out of office.

I know it doesn't violate the law, but there's a strong ethical principle that the purpose of the prosecutorial apparatus is to prosecute and vindicate the law, not to ruin people's lives. The government did not live up to that standard here.
11.6.2008 6:00pm
Houston Lawyer:
Sound prosecutorial discretion, sure, but some people are not owed that as much as others. Do any of the people Spitzer zealously prosecuted for various non-crimes get their lives back?

Can we at least name a sex act after him?
11.6.2008 6:01pm
Hoosier:
Dilan Esper

So you are, like, not one of those "sunlight is the best disinfectant-tpes", I take it.
11.6.2008 6:03pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Calderon:

Yes, if you structure the transaction for the purpose of avoiding reporting, you've committed a federal felony.
11.6.2008 6:05pm
Crunchy Frog:

...and so withdraw $9,500 three times so I can be a $28,500 car -- have I committed a crime?


In that you have enabled the seller to hide $28,500 in income from the IRS, yes.
11.6.2008 6:07pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Spitzer was already charged . . . a lot.

Besides, he's still subject to the "married guy" penalty for being caught with a prostitute - half your property.

Nick
11.6.2008 6:13pm
Light Hearted (mail):
DEsper: "there's a strong ethical principle that the purpose of the prosecutorial apparatus is to prosecute and vindicate the law, not to ruin people's lives."

Depending on the law--and there are a growing number of them--this is just a matter of you saying "potato" and me saying "potahto"...
11.6.2008 6:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So you are, like, not one of those "sunlight is the best disinfectant-tpes", I take it.

1. I don't see what seeing a prostitute has to do with governmental corruption or governmental ethics violations (the usual targets of Justice Brandeis' dictum).

2. Sunlight is usually achieved through transparency rules, disclosure requirements, whistleblower protections, a free press, etc. This is entirely different. Prosecutors have an awesome amount of power. They could probably get half of America in trouble if they used it. That's why we expect them to have discretion when charging, but it's also why we have grand jury secrecy-- so that when prosecutors decide not to charge, people's lives don't get ruined through leaks.

Prosecutors are supposed to vindicate the law, in public, by presenting their charges to a jury and allowing the jury the final say as to guilt or innocence. Prosecutors who leak damaging charges to the press are trying to circumvent that process. It is not why we give them that power, and those who cannot abide by that shouldn't be prosecutors.

And by the way, it isn't just guilty people (as Spitzer presumably is) who are damaged by prosecutorial leaks. Think about what happened to Richard Jewell.
11.6.2008 6:14pm
Nathan_M (mail):
anon23 - I actually agree with you, that in any particular case it can make sense not to prosecute. But the upshot is people like Governor Spitzer and Senator Vitter never seem to face any legal consequences for visiting prostitutes, while each year probably tens of thousands of women are convicted of offences relating to prostitution. That result strikes me as profoundly hypocritical.
11.6.2008 6:15pm
DangerMouse:
Are Democrats ever charged for criminal offenses?

Of course not. You act as if that's news. Democrats don't go to jail, ever. Look at Representative William Jefferson, who had $90,000 in bribes in his freezer. He's still out scott free. He'll never go to jail. Neither will Charlie Rangel, for violating New York rent control law, failure to pay taxes, etc. Nor will Democrat Charles O'Byrne, Chief of Staff to NY Governor Patterson, see jail for failing to pay $300,000 in taxes to the IRS.

Democrats never go to jail.
11.6.2008 6:18pm
Calderon:
Yes, if you structure the transaction for the purpose of avoiding reporting, you've committed a federal felony.

Thanks ... though that's pretty depressing.
11.6.2008 6:23pm
Per Son:
DangerMouse - umm, isn't Jim Traficant in prison?
11.6.2008 6:26pm
Per Son:
I could be wrong, but isn't Daniel David "Dan" Rostenkowski a Dem?
11.6.2008 6:28pm
PC:
it's crack, not coke, that causes so much damage and violence in the poorest neighborhoods.

Coke causes damage on Wall St.
11.6.2008 6:33pm
Angus:
I agree in principle, but what seems to be happening is that wealthy, powerful men get off scot free while the vulnerable woman they patronize go to jail.
Ashley Dupre went to jail?
11.6.2008 6:50pm
PC:
Ashley Dupre went to jail?

I think I saw that video.
11.6.2008 7:00pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
Who?
11.6.2008 7:39pm
John Herbison (mail):
Perhaps the federal prosecutors figured that Ms. Dupree had already charged Mr. Spitzer enough.
11.6.2008 7:41pm
hattio1:
Calderon says;

Let's say I hate debt, believe the IRS has no business snooping in my finances so long as I pay taxes are required, and so withdraw $9,500 three times so I can be a $28,500 car -- have I committed a crime?


I think it's going to cost you more than $28,500 to be converted into a car. Why you would want to do it, I don't know. Most cars don't live as long as most humans.
11.6.2008 7:59pm
Matthew K:

Perhaps the federal prosecutors figured that Ms. Dupree had already charged Mr. Spitzer enough.

I can approve of that logic.
11.6.2008 8:04pm
hattio1:
Dangermouse says;

Are Democrats ever charged for criminal offenses?

Of course not. You act as if that's news. Democrats don't go to jail, ever. Look at Representative William Jefferson, who had $90,000 in bribes in his freezer. He's still out scott free. He'll never go to jail. Neither will Charlie Rangel, for violating New York rent control law, failure to pay taxes, etc. Nor will Democrat Charles O'Byrne, Chief of Staff to NY Governor Patterson, see jail for failing to pay $300,000 in taxes to the IRS.

Democrats never go to jail.



I'm a public defender. Even though I'm in a red state, I guarantee you some of my clients are Democrats. Could it be you're engaging in just a wee bit of hyperbole?
11.6.2008 8:05pm
Porkchop:

Thanks; is structuring withdrawals or transfers to avoid the $10k limit in and of itself a crime, even if (say) the money was legitimately earned and is being used for a legitimate purpose?

To expand on Ex-Fed's response, if you deposit or withdraw $10,000 or more in cash from your bank, the bank is required to file a Currency Transaction Report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Cash-intensive businesses are exempted from the reporting requirements under certain conditions. Having your name on a CTR is not really a big deal -- there are lots of people with lots of reasons to deal in cash. When FinCEN trains people on the system, they have you run a search for CTRs' filed in ZIP code 90210 -- you recognize a lot of names. (Then they tell you to forget what you saw and never to do that again -- wise words since people lose their jobs and more for messing around in the system). The point is that no one really cares that you had more than $10,000 in cash as long as you don't try to hide that fact.

Most banks have computer software that aggregates cash transactions by single customers in order to determine whether there is potential structuring. Transactions above 3 or 4 thousand dollars are likely to attract attention. If there are enough such transactions within a short period of time, the bank will file a Suspicious Activity Report with FinCEN. In other words, your name goes into the system -- if it shows up enough to attract the attention of the software that searches for frequent flyers, you may have a problem. The sheer volume of SAR's makes it unlkely that a single filing will attract much notice, though.

Now, if your friendly banker suggests that you structure a transaction to avoid a CTR filing and offers to assist, he definitely has a problem if he is found out. That is highly likely to lead to prison time, or at least a permanent prohibition from the financial services industry.

(And, yes, I do this for a living -- at least for a little while longer.)
11.6.2008 8:27pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

DangerMouse - umm, isn't Jim Traficant in prison?


he shouldn't be. that man is a patriot...and hilarious.

"If you don't get those cameras out of my face, I'm gonna go 8.6 on the Richter scale with gastric emissions that'll clear this room!"

http://www.beammeupjames.com/
11.6.2008 8:27pm
Zywicki (mail):
I think they were also looking at whether Spitzer may have used campaign or government funds for purposes of facilitating the transaction. I think that there were some facts that suggested circumstantial evidence that he claimed he was coming to Washington on official business but was actually doing it primarily to meet his girl. There is some suggestion of that in the article, I think.
11.6.2008 8:36pm
Smokey:
RLS:
Oh, but they have a practice of not prosecuting johns elected Democrats.
FIFY.
11.6.2008 8:43pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Malvolio:

He laundered money, he should go to jail for money-laundering! Is this hard to understand for some reason?

You forget, he's immunized under the Constitution's 'Important People' clause.
11.6.2008 9:02pm
TMac (mail):
So if I buy a $28500 car and make a down payment of 1/3 and pay the balance in 2 weekly installments, I am OK but not if I make three withdrawals and pay cash. I don't see much of a difference.
11.6.2008 9:31pm
Fub:
Porkchop wrote at 11.6.2008 8:27pm:
... The point is that no one really cares that you had more than $10,000 in cash as long as you don't try to hide that fact.

Most banks have computer software that aggregates cash transactions by single customers in order to determine whether there is potential structuring. Transactions above 3 or 4 thousand dollars are likely to attract attention. If there are enough such transactions within a short period of time, the bank will file a Suspicious Activity Report with FinCEN. In other words, your name goes into the system -- if it shows up enough to attract the attention of the software that searches for frequent flyers, you may have a problem. The sheer volume of SAR's makes it unlkely that a single filing will attract much notice, though.
So, a computer decides whether you are making "suspicious" transactions, and even if you can account why you wanted to have $10,000 cash on hand to the satisfaction of any reasonable person, you are still a criminal even if you had no criminal intent, because a computer decided you were trying to hide something.

It's comforting to know that our betters in government really aren't trying to make every citizen a criminal. At least they still exclude "important people", as PersonFromPorlock observes above.

I guess it won't be long before they make it a felony to discuss the most intimate details of your life and health anywhere some cop can't hear it, since you must be trying to hide something.
11.6.2008 9:39pm
Smokey:
Fub is right on the money.
11.6.2008 10:04pm
Porkchop:
No, Fub, a guy at the bank will look at the transactions that the computer kicks out and make a determination whether to file a SAR. Then someone would have to read it. Then someone would have to decide it was worth investigating. Then someone would have to decide it was a prosecutable case. Then someone would have to get an indictment. Then someone (like a jury, for example) would have to make a determination that you were guilty. Then you would be a criminal.
11.6.2008 10:16pm
whit:
i am glad he is not going to be charged. frankly, i always thought spitzer was a crusading putz, but he has been punished MORE than enough already.


I agree in principle, but what seems to be happening is that wealthy, powerful men get off scot free while the vulnerable woman they patronize go to jail.


lol... "vulnerable women". right. because prostitutes are always victims. do you have ANY idea how much money this "victim" made by schtupping spitzer?

some victim. she chose her profession.

not to mention that prostitutes generally spend little time in jail. some get cited and released, others might spend a night or so per arrest.

i have had the benefit of dozens of conversations with prostitutes (workin' the streets myself... albeit in a different career), and jail is a very minor concern... a small inconvenience and cost of bidness. most of the smart ones these days are working craigslist, not the streets fwiw.

what prostitutes fear is psycho johns and/or their pimps. not jail.

and the idea that spitzer got off "scot free" is laughable. are you kidding?
11.6.2008 10:22pm
Sagar:
Dilan Espar,

I generally concur with your reasoning; but can't apply when the "perp" is a politician who himself has ruined the lives of New York citizens, using these type of laws (as well as numerous other threats)
11.6.2008 10:25pm
whit:
oh, and i made this point when the case first came to light. the money laundering thang, AT BEST, is a technicality, and a joke. he was not hiding illegal proceeds (like from drugs, etc.) and laundering it. he was trying to hide money he was PAYING (not receiving) because he didn't want to get caught paying for a prostitute. this is clearly NOT the kind of activity that money laundering statutes were intended for.
11.6.2008 10:26pm
whit:

it's crack, not coke, that causes so much damage and violence in the poorest neighborhoods.


people conveniently forget (or never investigated) that when crack "hit the streets" it was primarily residents of these poorer neighborhoods that called for stiffer penalties for crack. because they saw the devastation it was causing.

powder cocaine never caused NEARLY the kind of violent crime and other associated ills that crack did.

yes, tougher crack laws disproportionately affect blacks.

so what?

tougher meth laws disproportionately affect whites. i've been in several dozen meth labs and have bought (in undercover capacity) meth on dozens of occasions. i have never seen a black person in a lab or associated with a meth sale.

that doesn't mean meth laws are racist.

personally, i'm against the drug war in general, fwiw. and i think throwing people in jail (let alone prison) for drug use is frigging insane.

but crack laws were not made tougher than powder laws in order to get at minorities or poor people and/or ignore rich and middle class whites who were gorking up their noses. the laws were made tougher because 1) people in the communities affected by crack demanded it 2) crack was causing massive crime/violence

arguing that any part of the drug war makes sense does leave a sour taste in my mouth, though.
11.6.2008 10:34pm
Oren:
Remember that in order to convict for structuring, the State must prove that the transactions were designed to evade the reporting requirement. That's a scienter crime that the average Joe Plumber will never be charged with because he probably doesn't even know the reporting law.

Now, charging Spitzer with structuring would be hilarious because he cannot possibly claim ignorance.
11.7.2008 12:09am
Guest12345:
arguing that any part of the drug war makes sense does leave a sour taste in my mouth, though.


Clean your keyboard regular or type with your fingers.
11.7.2008 12:13am
Dave N (mail):
Does this mean Spitzer can call David Paterson and tell him he wants his job back?
11.7.2008 12:34am
Kevin P. (mail):
Dilan Esper, I'm disappointed that you are defending Spitzer the scumbag. While what you say may be true in general, Spitzer himself was a sanctimonious crusader who ruined the lives and careers of many private citizens, including prostitutes.
11.7.2008 5:28am
Porkchop:
Oren wrote:


Remember that in order to convict for structuring, the State must prove that the transactions were designed to evade the reporting requirement. That's a scienter crime that the average Joe Plumber will never be charged with because he probably doesn't even know the reporting law.

Now, charging Spitzer with structuring would be hilarious because he cannot possibly claim ignorance.



You would be surprised what the average Joe Plumber knows. Structuring for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements is very common. The reasons are sometimes things that they don't want the wife to know about, sometimes a general distaste for the government having its nose in theif business, but it doesn't matter why, even if the underlying transaction is perfectly legal. All that matters is that the report was not made. Knowledge is not that hard to demonstrate, particularly if there are multiple occurrences (and only multiple occurrences are likely to be prosecutes, because investigative and prosecutorial resources are needed elsewhere). That being said, the feds don't go looking for Joe Sixpack over these things -- usually there's something else going on and structuring is an add-on or the structuring charge is what's left after the plea bargain.
11.7.2008 7:15am
Bill Twist:
CJColucci:

Ms. Dupree could afford Don Buchwald? I'm a lawyer, and I couldn't afford him. I'm in the wrong business.


There are those who would say that you and Ms. Dupree are in the same business.

/Meant in good humor, of course.
11.7.2008 8:32am
CJColucci:
Bill Twist:
I was waiting for someone to say that.
11.7.2008 10:47am
wfjag:

Hoosier:
wfjag

WTF?*

*(WTF?)


From a long term perspective, spending a $Million in 5-star hotels and establishments of similar quality in NYC is cheaper than reaching under the stalls of an airport bathroom. As a History Prof., I'd hope you'd understand that, and pass that wisdom along to the eager young minds entrusted to you. And, for any student looking for a term paper topic, "Compare and contrast Larry and Elliot" might be a lot more entertaining than what you usually have to read.
11.7.2008 11:55am
Fub:
I wrote 11.6.2008 9:39pm:
It's comforting to know that our betters in government really aren't trying to make every citizen a criminal.

I guess it won't be long before they make it a felony to discuss the most intimate details of your life and health anywhere some cop can't hear it, since you must be trying to hide something.
Porkchop wrote at 11.6.2008 10:16pm:
No, Fub, a guy at the bank will look at the transactions that the computer kicks out and make a determination whether to file a SAR. Then someone would have to read it. Then someone would have to decide it was worth investigating. Then someone would have to decide it was a prosecutable case. Then someone would have to get an indictment. Then someone (like a jury, for example) would have to make a determination that you were guilty. Then you would be a criminal.
Porkchopwrote at 11.7.2008 7:15am:
You would be surprised what the average Joe Plumber knows. Structuring for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements is very common. The reasons are sometimes things that they don't want the wife to know about, sometimes a general distaste for the government having its nose in theif business, but it doesn't matter why, even if the underlying transaction is perfectly legal. All that matters is that the report was not made. Knowledge is not that hard to demonstrate, particularly if there are multiple occurrences (and only multiple occurrences are likely to be prosecutes, because investigative and prosecutorial resources are needed elsewhere). That being said, the feds don't go looking for Joe Sixpack over these things -- usually there's something else going on and structuring is an add-on or the structuring charge is what's left after the plea bargain.
I concede that the difference between making every citizen a criminal and making every other citizen a criminal is prosecutorial discretion.

With that amendment I rest my case.
11.7.2008 12:13pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Kevin P. and Sagar:

We also don't employ prosecutors to expose hypocrites.

Whit:

Craigslist, just yesterday, announced that they will crack down on hooker ads.
11.7.2008 6:18pm