Monday, August 16, 2010
08162010 - Judiciary Complaint - Letter from Indiana Judiciary Commission - Reviewing complaints against Magistrate Johnson - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation
Friday, August 13, 2010
Cantrell Loses Appeal Of Honest Services Conviction
August 13, 2010
Law360, New York (August 13, 2010, 3:36 PM EDT)
A federal appeals court has upheld the honest services fraud convictions of Robert J. Cantrell, a former municipal employee in Indiana who was found guilty in 2008 of taking kickbacks from a contractor in exchange for steering work to the company.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Cantrell's convictions Wednesday on four counts of honest services fraud, saying the charge was appropriate despite a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court scaling back the kinds of cases to which the statute can be applied.
In a trio of public corruption appeals decided in June — in particular that of former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling — the high court ruled that the mail fraud statute's honest services fraud provision was too broad and that it should be applied only to cases of bribery and kickbacks.
The ruling overturned Skilling's honest services fraud conviction. On the same logic, the court also overturned convictions on the statute for former media magnate Conrad Black and former Alaska state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch.
Later in June the high court also vacated honest services fraud convictions against former HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
But in Cantrell's case, the appeals court did not buy his argument that the statute was unconstitutionally vague, finding that his conviction should stand.
“By failing to fairly, honestly and candidly award contracts, Cantrell defrauded North Township and its citizens of their right to his honest services,” Judge Terence T. Evans wrote for the panel. “This was clearly a kickback scheme, so [the honest services fraud statute] — even as paired down by Skilling — applies to Cantrell.”
A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana also found Cantrell guilty of filing false income tax returns and of insurance fraud for deceptively procuring coverage for two of his children.
Cantrell did not appeal those convictions. But he did appeal his 78-month sentence, arguing unsuccessfully that the trial judge applied an incorrect sentencing guideline and failed to properly consider mitigating factors — in particular his military service — that could have shortened the length of time he should serve in prison.
From about 2000 to 2006, Cantrell held various government positions for North Township in Lake County, Ind., including a job as an office manager and a position as a liaison to the township trustee.
He landed in hot water when he helped steer contracts to Addiction and Family Care Inc., a provider of counseling services.
The company received clients on referral through various local courts as part of sentencing and probation programs. The company also got a chunk of its business from contracts with local government entities to provide counseling to their employees and clients, according to the district court complaint.
For every client Cantrell helped AFC land through the court-referral program, Cantrell would get half of the fee that AFC charged the person for counseling sessions.
Cantrell also got a kickback on government referrals, receiving 50 percent of the contract amount, usually after the deduction of fees paid to counselors. One work release program run by a local sheriff paid Cantrell $2,000 per month, the complaint said.
A call for comment to Cantrell's attorney was not immediately returned.
The case was decided by Circuit Judges Evans and Richard A. Posner and Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook.
Cantrell is represented by Bertig & Associates.
The case is United States v. Robert J. Cantrell, case number 09-1856, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Cantrell's fraud conviction upheld
Aug 12, 2010
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Lake County power broker Robert Cantrell's appeal of fraud convictions Wednesday, but Cantrell's lawyer said the case is not over yet.
Valparaiso-based attorney Bryan Truitt said he will be filing a motion for rehearing.
"The opinion is contrary to the facts," Truitt said of the appellate decision. "I will appeal to whomever I must to get an accurate record and justice for Bob Cantrell."
The former North Township supervisor, 68, was sentenced to almost 6 1/2 years in prison in March 2009 for using his position in public office to steer contracts to a counseling company in exchange for money. A jury also found him guilty of insurance fraud for "deceptively procuring" township-funded health insurance coverage for two of his children, filing false income tax returns and other offenses.
Truitt argued to the appeals court in May that Cantrell's sentence was not appropriate because U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano applied incorrect guidelines and failed to address arguments for leniency.
Cantrell's age, military career and other factors were not adequately addressed in the sentencing, according to the claims in appellate court documents. The appellate decision quoted Lozano mentioning Cantrell's age and addressing other factors in the sentencing.
"The judge explained that although Cantrell helped several individuals throughout his life, it appeared that, in many cases, he did so to further his own interests," Circuit Judge Terence Evans wrote in Wednesday's appellate decision.
Truitt said the appellate court got it wrong, and that the written decision was in some cases opposite of the trial record.
"The 7th Circuit has taken the lead in requiring judges to consider relevant mitigators, and today they contradicted themselves," Truitt said.
After the U.S. Supreme Court's narrowing of the definition of honest services fraud this summer in the case of Enron's former CEO, Truitt also challenged Cantrell's honest services convictions.
The Supreme Court ruled that honest services fraud only applied to bribery and kickback schemes. In Cantrell's case, the appeals court ruled his actions met the qualifications.
"By failing to fairly, honestly and candidly award contracts, Cantrell defrauded North Township and its citizens of their right to his honest services," Evans wrote in the appellate decision. "This was clearly a kickback scheme."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Judge upholds Cantrell sentence
Aug 11, 2010
CHICAGO | A panel of three judges with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano's sentencing of former Lake County power broker Robert Cantrell on Wednesday.
Cantrell, a former North Township supervisor, was charged with honest services fraud, insurance fraud, filing false tax returns and other charges in 2007. He helped a counseling business get a contract with North Township and received money from the business in return, without revealing the arrangement with other township officials. Cantrell also arranged for two people to get health insurance coverage through the business by creating false employment records.
Lozano sentenced Cantrell to 78 months in prison in March 2009.
In the eight-page document issued Wednesday, Judge Terrance Evans wrote that Lozano had "to explain why the sentence was appropriate in light of Cantrell's arguments. And that he did." Evans went on to state that "there is no evidence that the district judge committed procedural error or otherwise acted unreasonably in imposing a within-guideline sentence."