Nearly nine years ago, Fraser Verrusio, then a policy director in the House of Representatives, accepted an all-expenses paid trip to the first game of the World Series. He's now fighting to convince a federal appeals court in Washington to erase his conviction on public corruption charges stemming from that trip.
A jury in Washington's federal trial court convicted Verrusio in February 2011 on charges that included acceptance of an illegal gratuity and failing to include gift information on financial disclosure reports. He was sentenced that year to spend the afternoon in a cell in the courthouse.
Verrusio's lawyers—including A.J. Kramer, the federal public defender in Washington, and a team from Baker Botts—filed their opening brief on October 5 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The case is one of two cases pending in the D.C. Circuit with ties to Washington's lobbying scandal and the exploits of Jack Abramoff.
The defense lawyers argue, among other things, that the trial judge, Richard Roberts, "greatly expanded" the scope of the federal anti-gratuities statute. The attorneys contend the U.S. Justice Department didn't prove that Verrusio used his official position to influence government decision-making.