Defense lawyers for some of the numerous people accused in Philadelphia under federal corruption laws are demanding that their clients receive separate trials. While the motion could turn an already logistically difficult case into a nightmare of one, splitting trials in cases like these is often the only to make sure everyone gets one that is fair.
Federal Corruption Probe Charges Philadelphia Union Leaders
Although politics and personal agendas are unfortunately at times motivating factors as to why certain defendants are targeted and others are not, federal authorities did their due diligence regardless of the motivation behind the prosecution of the present case, the federal corruption probe ultimately lasting 30 months long and allegedly finding around $600,000 that was embezzled from IBEW Local 98 – a union of electricians.
According to the federal indictment, union leaders – including union “boss” John Dougherty and Philadelphia councilman Bobby Henon – used union credit cards to make personal purchases, including expensive home renovations. Some of the contracts that were paid with these union credit cards were allegedly forged to make it seem like they were for union-related business.
Henon was implicated for allegedly taking bribes. Dougherty and a handful of other IBEW Local 98 leaders face numerous federal corruption and white-collar crime charges that could carry decades in jail.
Minor Co-Defendants Want Trials Separate from Major Parties
A total of eight people have been implicated in the indictment. However, while the indictment includes over 100 accusations of criminal activities – including 40 counts of embezzlement and 23 counts of wire fraud – the vast majority of those criminal accusations have been levied against only a couple of different people.
A few of the co-defendants are only facing a dozen or so allegations – and some of those are limited to charges for conspiracy to embezzle the union's funds, not actual embezzlement.
Now, the defense lawyers for some of those relatively minor defendants caught up in the probe want separate trials for their clients, rather than being lumped into a huge one with the major players in the case.
For example, according to the defense lawyer for Tony Massa, Massa's only role in the conspiracy to embezzle money from the union was to do the carpentry work at Dougherty's home and a business he owned. Massa then sent in his invoices for the work. According to the indictment, though, Massa knew that he was doing personal work for Dougherty and was billing the union for it.
If these co-defendants get separate trials, it will be a headache for the courts but will insulate them from the taint of being associated with the major players in the case. Such a taint is not insignificant when it would be the same jury deciding the fate of everyone involved.
Joseph D. Lento: Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia
Motions like these are the often-overlooked decisions that can make or break a case. By asking the judge for separate trials, defendants can prevent their jury from finding them guilty by mere association and force their jury to treat their case on the merits.
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who legally represents the accused in Philadelphia. Contact him online or call his law office at (215) 535-5353 for the legal guidance and input you need to defend yourself against a serious criminal allegation that can change your life.
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