Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, a fallen DoJ star who landed the first post-9/11 terrorism convictions, was acquitted Wednesday of charges that he withheld records from defense attorneys in the now-infamous Detroit “sleeper cell” trial in 2003. A federal judge later reversed the convictions, after a DoJ investigation concluded that the prosecution was rickety and that Convertino had played dirty to firm it up. For a history of how things went south, read our story from August here.
Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan, Convertino’s defense attorney, sent the BLT a euphoric message from his Blackberry: “Complete victory and vindication!!!”
Also acquitted in U.S. District Court in Detroit was former U.S. Embassy security agent Ray Smith, who allegedly conspired with Convertino to withold the records. The jury began deliberations Tuesday, after three weeks of trial. (Read about it here in the Detroit Free Press.) Convertino, who now has his own practice in Michigan, never took the stand.
He faced charges of conspiring to obstruct justice, making false declarations before the court, and obstructing justice, but Convertino and Sullivan have always maintained that he was scapegoated for his criticism of the Justice Department’s handling of the war on terrorism. He has a whistleblower suit simmering in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. His win in the criminal case is bound to make things interesting for Justice lawyers. Stay tuned.