View Mobile Site

How dare Bonds defy Great Wizards of Prosecution

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED April 1, 2011 12:50 a.m.
Today is April Fools’ Day.

So be sure that you do not, under any circumstances, tell a lie to a federal prosecutor.

If you do, you will receive the same treatment that Martha Stewart did as well as what Barry Bonds is now experiencing.

Lying is a much more serious offense - judging by the response of federal prosecutors - than let’s say participating in a major lie to make millions of dollars off toxic mortgages that almost collapse the economy or actually selling drugs like steroids to someone.

They could not prove Martha Stewart was guilty of securities fraud so they did the next best thing: They nailed her to the proverbial cross for lying to the federal prosecutors so therefore she was obstructing justice.

For that she spent five months in federal prison.

And that securities fraud charge had nothing to do with what brought down her then boyfriend who was a stock broker who supposedly gave her an inside tip that prompted her to dump stock. It was based on a charge - that the trial judge himself termed “novel” - that Martha Stewart proclaiming her innocence misled investors in her own company who were antsy that a conviction would plunge the value of stock in Martha Stewart Inc.

In other words, they couldn’t convict her on any of the original charges so they nailed her for lying to federal prosecutors. Sure she could have invoked the right not to incriminate herself if she didn’t want to answer questions or sit there stone-faced but in the end it would have made no difference. The popular assumption is invoking the Fifth means you’re guilty and if you don’t cooperate by answering questions they get you on obstruction of justice.

This is not to say lying isn’t a serious act that shouldn’t have criminal implications.

It’s just that the biggest pack of lies that led to the mortgage collapse has had no one prosecuted let alone convicted yet hundreds of billions of dollars were lost as companies were collapsed, and stock values plunged. The victims were investors, members of pension funds, and taxpayers. Yet you don’t see anyone in the mess being prosecuted for lying by falsifying documents or signing statements that packages of millions of dollars of mortgage securities were indeed what they perpetuated them to be -top grade investment instruments.

In Stewart’s case, she allegedly lied during an investigation into whether she received an inside tip from her boyfriend that the federal government was about to reject a cancer fighting drug made by ImClone by selling 4,000 shares of stock before trading started the next day when the announcement was scheduled to be made.

The amount of money involved? Stewart avoided $51,000 in losses. Imagine if the Queen of Style had been involved with dumping fraudulent mortgages worth millions. The federal prosecutors would probably have burned her at the stake.

Then there is Barry Bonds.

He is on trial for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury when he said he never knowingly took steroids.

For this he is being prosecuted to the max. If by chance he is convicted what will it accomplish except effectively tie up federal prosecution resources and the courts for years costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions to simply nail Bonds for lying?

I’ve never met either Stewart of Bonds nor am I enamored by their public personas. Yet there were - and are - an ample amount of folks who have clamored to see them get their just desserts.

Be careful what you wish for.

The government has extraordinary power invested in it not by the constitution per se but by laws adopted within the framework of that document that gives government the power to function.

No one should lie, but everyone does to some degree at some time whether it is the so-called white lie or a perception of a lie when they unknowingly relay incorrect information.

Yes, federal prosecutors are often hampered when people lie to them. And remember, invoking the Fifth is essentially casting permanent suspicion over yourself and they can hold you - with the help of a judge - in prison for refusing to answer questions.

So what we have here is the Great Wizard of Oz complex. How dare you defy the almighty and self-righteous federal prosecutors who of course have never made a mistake - knowingly or otherwise - based on passing misleading information to a jury to convict someone.

A justice system based on compliance out of fear is not justice at all.

And that seems to have been the end game in both the prosecution of Stewart and Bonds solely on charges they lied to the privileged class of people known as federal prosecutors.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...