#AceNewsServices – Featured Post:VIRGINIA: Jan.06: Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia, was sentenced by a federal judge on Tuesday to two years in prison for accepting lavish gifts from a wealthy donor while holding office.
United States District Court Judge James R. Spencer announced his ruling just shy of 3 pm local time early on Tuesday, four months and two days after a jury there found Mr McDonnell and his wife guilty of public corruption charges. The Twitter account for the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia confirmed the ruling shortly after.
Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell sentenced to two years in prison for violating federal public corruption laws.
— U.S. Attorney EDVA (@EDVAnews) January 6, 2015
“I stand before you as a humble and heartbroken man,” McDonnell told the court on Tuesday ahead of the judge’s decision, according to journalist Jeff Goldberg.“I can’t fathom any deeper humiliation for me and my family”
Going into court on Tuesday, McDonnell faced a maximum sentence of 12 years. Judge Spencer unexpectedly reduced the outcome range during the hearing, however, and said the governor would only face upwards of eight years behind bars since he did not obstruct justice or accept more than a certain amount of bribes, according to Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky. According to Kathy Hieatt, a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot, Judge Spencer sentenced McDonnell to two years on each of the 11 charges he was convicted of, but said he could serve them concurrently, citing the governor’s military service and calling him a “good and decent man.” After he is eventually release from prison, McDonnell will be on supervised release for another two years, Hieatt tweeted from court.
Judge James Spencer said he gave Bob #McDonnell credit for being a “good & decent man” & serving in the military.
— Kathy Hieatt (@kathymarievb) January 6, 2015
Prosecutors sought a sentence of at least 10 years for the former governor, while Mr McDonnell’s attorneys hoped the court would consider probation and community service. His wife, Maureen, was found guilty of nine counts and is expected to learn her fate next month.
Mr McDonnell’s counsel filed a ruling on Monday this week in which the court was asked to preserve the former governor’s freedom pending appeal since they planned to challenge the sentencing as soon as possible. According to the Washington Post, McDonnell’s lawyers said their appeals will raise “substantive legal questions” during what the paper predictedto be a “sure-to-be-lengthy” ordeal before the Fourth Circuit.
According to Zapotosky, the Virginia Republican will have to report to prison by February 9.
Judge gives Bob McDonnell two year sentence. Must report to prison by February 9.
— Matt Zapotosky (@mattzap) January 6, 2015
In September, the former governor was found guilty on 11 of 13 counts of corruption concerning exchanges he had while in office with Jonnie Williams Sr., the former chief executive of a dietary-supplement business who showered the McDonnells with roughly $177,000 in extravagant gifts and loans in exchange for government favors.
Mr McDonnell, 60, served as a Republican member of the House of Delegates from 1992 to 2006, then served one term as the state’s attorney general before successfully running for governor in the 2009 elections. McDonnell’s only term as governor of the commonwealth concluded on January 11, 2014, and a grand jury indicted him and his wife only 10 days later.
Since September, Judge Spencer has received nearly 450 letters urging leniency with regards to sentencing the governor,according to Politico, and appeals from the likes of US Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.
“I can say with no uncertainty that Bob McDonnell is the most ethical, honest and faithful public servant I have ever worked with,” Phil Cox, a former McDonnell aide who later led the Republican Governors Association, stated in a letter to the court, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“His promising political career is over, he is virtually bankrupt, his family is in a shambles and he and his family have endured more public humiliation than any family should have to endure, regardless of what they are accused of doing,” pleaded Joseph F. Damico, a friend of the governor’s since high school.
But Robin Trujillo, a juror during the corruption case, told WVEC that she was disturbed by the pleas.
“We talked, we went through documents about the testimony and looked at all the evidence. It was just overwhelming. It was also just staring us in the face,”Trujillo said.“It was not just some small little thing. It was major and it went on for a very long time.”
#AceWorldNews – PALESTINE:Jan.05: The Palestinian Authority wants to join Interpol after having been accepted as an observer but not a full member three years ago because it did not have control of defined borders Jewish Press reported.
The Abbas regime thinks it now has a majority of Interpol’s members to be accepted.
Palestinian Authority Minister of Interior Ahmed al-Rabie told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency, joining Interpol will give the PA the ability to take part in fighting cross-border crimes and fighting terrorism, money-laundering, corruption, arms-trade, and human-trafficking.
The question remains which terrorism the Palestinian Authority would fight, or aid …?
#AceWorldNews – TURKEY:Jan.02:The trial of 13 Turkish police officers began in Ankara on Friday.
The officers are accused of setting up bugs to spy on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he was prime minister during the corruption scandal in December 2013.
However, only eight of them will be present at the court as five others are on the run.
If found guilty, they face over 30 years in prison.
Erdogan said their actions were concocted by his political rival Fethullah Gulen to bring down his government.
#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES – Dec.01 – A federal judge on Monday rejected a bid from former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, for a new trial or outright acquittal on public corruption charges, though he threw out the first lady’s conviction on an obstruction of justice charge Washington Post reported.
The outcome was mostly an expected one; U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer had rejected similar arguments from the former first couple several times before.
The couple can — and very likely will — raise the same issues on appeal, but that won’t come until after they are sentenced early next year.
Spencer’s dismissal of the obstruction of justice charge against Maureen McDonnell was the only surprise, and its rationale is deep in the legal weeds of the case against the former first couple.
The judge ruled, essentially, that prosecutors did not prove sufficiently that Maureen McDonnell intended to obstruct the grand jury’s investigation into her and her husband’s public corruption — even though she took steps to throw off the investigation.
The McDonnells were convicted in September of public corruption after a jury decided unanimously that they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in loans, vacations and luxury goods.
The McDonnells argued soon after that the guilty verdicts stemmed from “insufficient evidence” and “numerous legal errors during the proceedings” and asked Spencer to throw out their convictions — or at least order they be given a new trial.
#AceNewsServices – BRUSSELS – Nov.30 – Europe’s Ombudsman has opened a fresh enquiry into the EU’s handling of corruption allegations at Eulex, its rule of law mission in Kosovo.
Emily O’Reilly, who heads the watchdog, notified Patrick Child, the top official in the European External Action Service (EEAS), which runs Eulex, about her “own-initiative” probe in a letter last Friday (14 November).
Citing press articles on the furore, she said “there are doubts” as to whether “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo has properly investigated/is properly investigating the allegations of serious irregularities reported by the … Eulex prosecutor”.
The prosecutor – a seconded British official, Maria Bamieh – complained to her superiors that her colleagues took bribes to shut down criminal cases and stymied an internal affairs probe.
She was later fired on suspicion that she leaked documents to a Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore.
But both she and the paper deny she leaked the files.
O’Reilly’s letter notes that EEAS/Eulex “have stated that a joint investigation was launched in 2013”.
It also notes the EEAS recently appointed a French academic, Jean Paul Jacque, to “assess the matter”.
The EU last week asked the UN to partly lift the immunity of one of the Eulex suspects, Italian judge Francesco Florit.
But with Bamieh claiming the 2013 internal investigation is “a lie … a complete joke”, O’Reilly complained that: “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo appear to have repeatedly declined to provide any information on what exactly the scope of this investigation was or what stage it has reached”.
O’Reilly added that Jacque’s mandate – to “check whether Eulex has adequate procedures to prevent corruption and whether it followed due process” – is so limited that she wants to make her own assessment “notwithstanding” his efforts.
She underlined that she will not look into Bamieh’s allegations as such, but will “verify whether EEAS/Eulex have taken all the necessary steps to examine” them.
She also asked Child to forward her “all the documents” related to the affair, promising to protect files which he “identifies as confidential” from “third parties”.
The EU Ombudsman, a Strasbourg and Brussels-based body, has around 90 staff and oversees “maladministration” in EU institutions.
Its reports are non-binding, but EU bodies have a track record of following up on its recommendations.
O’Reilly herself is an award-winning Irish journalist, who was also Ireland’s Ombudsman from 2003 to 2013.
Source: EUobserver Report – EEAS – EULEX
#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON – Nov.16 – The rising tide of fraud in the military and ways to make fast cash has begun to alarm the Department of Defence.
One such story of how a man called Fabian Barrera found a way to make fast cash in the Texas National Guard, earning roughly $181,000 for claiming to have steered 119 potential recruits to join the military, was highlighted by AP in a recent report.
Though the bonuses were ill-gotten because the former captain never actually referred anyone.
Barrera’s case, which ended last month with a prison sentence of at least three years, is part of what Justice Department lawyers describe as a recurring pattern of corruption that spans a broad cross section of the military.
#AceWorldNews – BRAZIL (Rio De-Janeiro) – Nov.15 – Twenty-seven people were arrested by Brazilian police in connection with a corruption case involving state-owned oil giant Petrobras.
Among the arrestees is the former director of engineering and services, Renato Duque, AFP reported.
Thirty police teams took part in the arrests that swept the country.
Police also searched 11 companies during the operation and seized $277 million worth of assets belonging to 36 individuals and three companies.
The breakthrough in the case against Petrobras reportedly came after former official Paulo Roberto Costa made a plea deal with the prosecutors, revealing that the firm gave out millions of dollars to politicians of the ruling Workers Party between 2004 and 2012.
According to police, a total of around $3.9 billion was paid out during that time.
#AceWorldNews – BEIJING – Nov.08 – China’s graft busters want foreign help in their “fox hunt” for corrupt officials who have fled the country and stashed their ill-gotten loot abroad AP reported.
Though misgivings about Chinese justice may deter the U.S. and other nations from wholeheartedly joining the chase.
When leaders of Asia-Pacific countries meet Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, they are expected to endorse a network for member nations to share information on corruption cases and help recover assets that have been moved across borders illegally.
#AceNewsServices – PARIS – September 24 – A French court has suspended an investigation launched in July against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence-peddling, AFP reported on Wednesday.
The Paris appeals court decided the previous day to drop the probe and does not have to give a reason, a source close to the inquiry said.
The decision came days after he announced his political comeback.
Sarkozy still remains mired in several other judicial matters, including for alleged corruption.
His announcement ended months of speculation about the intentions of the conservative former president, who vowed to give up politics after he failed to be re-elected in 2012.
The UMP party elections are due to be held in November.
Although Mr Sarkozy has kept a low profile since leaving office, he has faced a series of investigations that involve him in some capacity.
The suspended case relates to an alleged attempt to influence judges who were looking into his affairs.
The suspension could last several months, according to AFP news agency.
Other inquiries include one into his links with late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and another into illegal campaign funding in 2012.
Mr Sarkozy denies wrongdoing.
BBC – AFP – RT – AP
#AceWorldNews – CAIRO – April 11 – Turkey’s Constitutional Court annulled parts of a law tightening government control of the judiciary, Reuters said, citing local media reports.
Articles granting the justice minister powers over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors were reportedly cancelled.
The move deals a blow to a reform seen as part of a bid by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to snuff out a corruption scandal.
#AceWorldNews – New Delhi – April 10 – (ALJ) – Voters in New Delhi waited in long queues to cast ballots in the third stage of India’s nine-phased parliamentary elections, with hopes of controlling inflation, ushering in development and ending corruption.
Residents of the capital on Thursday started gathering at the poll stations in the early hours under the watchful eye of thousands of police and election authorities.
An estimated 12.7 million voters will decide the outcome of seven lower house seats for which 150 candidates of several political parties are contesting.
#AceNewsServices – BEIJING – April 10 – A Chinese anti-corruption campaigner has gone on trial in Beijing, according to his lawyer, joining two others who appeared in court this week as China’s government cracks down on activists.
Zhao Changqing, 45, faces a possible five-year prison sentence for supporting activists who unveiled banners in Beijing calling for government officials to disclose their assets – despite not being present, Zhang Peihong, his lawyer, said on Thursday.
Zhao is associated with the New Citizens Movement, a loose-knit network of campaigners against corruption, among other issues. China jailed a founder of the movement in January, and more than 10 other members have been tried.
Zhao pleaded not guilty to a charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” for his alleged involvement in three small-scale protests in Beijing, which saw activists unfurl banners, Zhang said.
Zhao didn’t disturb public order in any way, he didn’t even appear on the scene of the protests, because he was worried about his family,” he said, adding that the hearing lasted around three hours.
Fellow anti-corruption activists Ding Jiaxi and Li Wei were also put on trial this week over the protests.
China’s ruling Communist Party is in the midst of a highly-publicised anti-corruption campaign, which President Xi Jinping has pledged will target both high-ranking “tigers” and low-level “flies” in the face of public anger over the issue.
But the party has cracked down harshly on independent activists who have the same goals, viewing independently organised anti-corruption protests as a challenge to its rule.
Zhao was previously jailed for his role as a leader during the 1989 pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square, and has served more than eight years in jail for his continued political campaigning.
A court in Beijing sentenced Xu Zhiyong, a legal campaigner and a founder of the New Citizens Movement, to four years in prison in January for his role in the protests.
The verdict was condemned by the US and the European Union. Xu’s lawyers said the trial was subject to political interference, and appealed, with a court set to announce its decision on Friday.
Contributions from AFP – Al Jazeera – China Daily and Chinese Media Sources
#AceNewsServices2104 says those that were suppose to be Guardian’s of Truth and Justice have become corrupted by that which they Promised to Serve and Protect #corruption
#AceWorldNews says (Reuters) – China will begin a long-awaited trial next week of a prominent anti-graft activist campaigning for officials to reveal their wealth, his lawyer said on Friday, on charges he broke the law by organizing demonstrations.
Xu Zhiyong, who has also pushed for greater civil rights, was formally arrested in August in a case that has exposed shortcomings in the government’s drive against deep-rooted #corruption.
His lawyer said the trial would open on Wednesday.
Western governments have sparred with Beijing over human rights and both the United States and European Union have expressed concern about Xu’s case.
Founder of the “New Citizens’ Movement”, Xu advocates working within the system to secure change. He had called on officials to disclose their assets and fellow activists have gone into the streets to urge citizens to fight corruption.