The author of the ACR Blog has just been extensively debriefed on today's status conference in DC District Court in the case of USA v Kevin Ring by our trusted and venerable Washington correspondent. As we stated earlier, the purpose of the hearing was to hear arguments from the government and Kevin Ring's defense team regarding exhibits that the government wants to introduce as evidence at Mr. Ring's upcoming criminal trial.
Our correspondent reports enough "news" to keep us blogging right up to the day of trial (September 8) - assuming Mr. Ring did not cop his plea today. The first item we want to report is some fascinating information that came out during the discussion over Exhibit 566:
Exhibit 566: Email from [Pat, full name Padgett] Wilson to Ring, "RE: dave mattthews band"; 2/4/2002
Government's Basis for Admission:
This email chain is highly relevant and clearly demonstrates Ring and his coconspirators use of tickets and other things of value as illicit inducements and rewards. Specifically, Ring wrote, "I have the suite filling up with DOJ staffers that just got our client $16 million," to which a coconspirator replied, "As for DOJ staffers, those guys should get anything they want for the rest of the time they are in office - opening day tickets, Skins v Giants, oriental massages, hookers, whatever..." (ellipsis in original). The beginning of the email chain is also relevant, in that it shows a different public official thanking Ring for tickets and offering her Member's help.
Mr. Ring's defense team objected to the inclusion of this Exhibit on the basis of relevance (FRE 403), and Ring attorney Andrew Wise made a spirited case to Judge Huvelle extending far beyond relevance. Mr. Wise made it clear that he felt that the inclusion of "oriental massage" and "hookers" would be very prejudicial to his client. Mr. Wilson had been interviewed previously on this matter and had stated that he had only been joking and that no massages or hookers were ever offered up to anyone. Judge Huvelle asked the government who Mr. Wilson was, and whether the government planned to use him as a witness. DoJ attorney Michael Ferrara said the government did not intend to call Mr. Wilson as a witness. In fact, Mr. Ferrara said, "The government considers Mr. Wilson to be a co-conspirator ."
Judge Huvelle asked, "Just how many co-conspirators do you have in the Abramoff case?" [paraphrased] Mr. Ferrara answered that there are 30 co-conspirators. He said 17 have already been named. This leaves another 13 individuals still to be formally identified as co-conspirators in the case. Based on the government's Exhibit List and today's status conference, we can now name 4 of these conspirators:
1. Julie Doolittle
2. Padgett (Pat) Wilson - Team Abramoff (named today)
3. Jennifer Farley - White House Intergovernmental Affairs (named today)
4. Susan Ralston - Karl Rove's assistant (named today)
It would be interesting to speculate on the remaining nine. Of course we have no way of knowing how many of these individuals may face charges in the future, but it is clear that the Abramoff scandal has not yet fully played out. Not by a long shot!
With respect to Exhibit 566, Mr. Ferrara responded to Mr. Wise's objection by saying, "Your Honor, we have no intention of arguing whether anyone provided hookers to anyone in this matter. But this email provides a look at the culture that operated at this place (Greenberg Traurig)." [paraphrased]
Judge Huvelle overruled the objections of Mr. Wise, and Exhibit 566 will be admitted.
Our correspondent reports that Mr. Ring's attorneys, Mr. Wise and Mr. O'Toole, were vigorous in their defense of Mr. Ring, but at all times were courteous and professional not only to the prosecutors but also to the ACR Blog's Washington correspondent. A tip o' the hat to them.