Just two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the honest service fraud laws, Justice Department attorneys today said they are pushing forward on the corruption prosecution of ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, a former Jack Abramoff associate who is charged in a bribery scheme.
At a hearing today in Washington federal district court, Public Integrity Section trial attorney Peter Koski said the high court’s June 24 ruling in Skilling v. United States has “no impact whatsoever” on the prosecution of Ring. The Supreme Court in Skilling said the honest services law can reach only bribery and kickback schemes.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said she has a different take. The once wide-open honest service fraud statute “is not an unlimited category now,” the judge said today. She said the “arena” today is different than when charges were first brought against Ring. There’s a new definition of bribery and materiality, the judge said.
Huvelle today gave Ring’s attorneys—he is represented by a Miller & Chevalier team—more time to file an amended motion for judgment of acquittal. Ring’s trial last fall ended in a hung jury. Ring, a former lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig and then, later, at Barnes & Thornburg, could be retried this fall in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Koski said the government is planning a faster, smoother trial. The government still intends to call Janis, Schuelke & Wechsler name partner Henry Schuelke III, Koski said today in court. At the first Ring trial, Schuelke testified about ethics laws and admissions Ring made. Greenberg had hired Schuelke to conduct an internal investigation involving Abramoff and associates.