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Tom Delay indicted on conspiracy charges;
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BlazerUnit Offline
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Post: #1
 
<a href='http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050928/ap_on_go_co/delay_investigation_37;_ylt=AllxiTYn6c_mmSuxc.AqNwWGbToC;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl' target='_blank'>Indicted DeLay Steps Down From House Post</a>

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury Wednesday on a charge of conspiring to violate political fundraising laws, forcing him to temporarily step aside from his GOP post. He is the highest-ranking member of Congress to face criminal prosecution.

A defiant DeLay said he had done nothing wrong and denounced the Democratic prosecutor who pursued the case as a "partisan fanatic." He said, "This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history. It's a sham."

Nonetheless, DeLay's temporary departure and the prospect of a criminal trial for one of the Republicans' most visible leaders reverberated throughout the GOP-run Congress, which was already struggling with ethics questions surrounding its Senate leader.

Republicans quickly moved to fill the void, while voicing polite support for DeLay. Speaker
Dennis Hastert named Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record) to take over most of DeLay's leadership duties.

Ronnie Earle, the Democratic prosecutor in Austin who led the investigation, denied politics was involved. "Our job is to prosecute abuses of power and to bring those abuses to the public," he said. He has noted previously that he has prosecuted many Democrats in the past.

DeLay, 58, was indicted on a single felony count of conspiring with two political associates. The two previously had been charged with the same conspiracy count. They are John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

The indictment stems from a plan DeLay helped set in motion in 2001 to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections for the first time since Reconstruction.

The grand jury accused the men of conspiring to route corporate donations from DeLay's Texas committee to the Republican Party in Washington, then returning the money back to Texas legislative candidates. It was a scheme intended to evade a state law outlawing corporate donations going to candidates, the indictment said.

The indictment also mentioned another Republican figure,
President Bush's campaign political director Terry Nelson, though it did not charge him with any wrongdoing.

The grand jury alleged Nelson received the money — along with a list of Texas lawmakers who were to get donations — from the Texas committee while working at the
Republican National Committee. Nelson did not return calls to his office seeking comment.

DeLay and others conspired to "engage in conduct that would constitute the offense of knowingly making a political contribution in violation" of Texas law, the indictment charged. However, it did not specify how DeLay was involved.

DeLay, whose conduct on separate issues was criticized by the House ethics committee last year, was unrelenting in his criticism of Earle. He suggested the district attorney had promised not to prosecute him and then changed course under pressure from Democrats and criticism from a newspaper in Texas.

The majority leader derided Earle as an "unabashed partisan zealot" and a "rogue district attorney."

However, the grand jury's foreman, William Gibson, told The Associated Press that Earle didn't pressure members to indict DeLay. "Ronnie Earle didn't indict him. The grand jury indicted him," Gibson said in an interview at his home.

Gibson, 76, a retired sheriff's deputy, said of DeLay: "He's probably doing a good job. I don't have anything against him. Just something happened."

DeLay's lawyer immediately sought to protect the lesader from further embarassment, even as they pressed to learn the evidence against their client. "I'm going to keep from having Tom DeLay taken down in handcuffs, photographed and fingerprinted. That's uncalled for," defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said.

DeLay got some polite support from the White House, where press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush still considered DeLay "a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people."

"I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal process work," the spokesman said.

By any measure, DeLay's indictment was historic. A Senate historian, Donald Ritchie, said after researching the subject, "There's never been a member of Congress in a leadership position who has been indicted."

Two others members of Congress have been indicted since 1996. Former Rep. William Janklow (news, bio, voting record), R-S.D., was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to 100 days in prison after his car struck and killed a motorcyclist in 2003. Former Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted on charges from a 2001 indictment accusing him of racketeering and accepting bribes.

Democrats, who have long accused DeLay of ethical impropriety, made much of the indictment, which came just days after federal authorities began a criminal inquiry into Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist over his sale of stock in a family-founded hospital company.

DeLay's indictment "is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, setting up Democrats' pitch to win back Congress in 2006.

Criminal conspiracy is a Texas felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forced DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.

Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; the money can be used only for administrative expenses.

The indictment alleged that the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account.

The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check from that same account to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to receive in donations.

The indictment, which included a copy of the check, came on the final day of the grand jury's term, following earlier indictments of TRMPAC, three political associates — including the two indicted Wednesday — several corporate donors and a Texas business association.

___

Associated Press writers April Castro and Suzanne Gamboa in Austin and Special Correspondent David Espo in Washington contributed to this report.

___

On the Net:

The indictment is available at <a href='http://wid.ap.org/documents/delayindict050928.pdf' target='_blank'>http://wid.ap.org/documents/delayindict050928.pdf</a>
09-28-2005 07:01 PM
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rickheel Offline
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He will walk. They will more than likely not even have a trial.
09-30-2005 03:49 AM
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OptimisticOwl Offline
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Post: #3
 
I expect it will be like the Kay Bailey Hutchinson fiasco. When trial time nears, Earle will ask for a dismissal. He achieved his goals with just the indictment anyway.
09-30-2005 06:18 PM
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JTiger Offline
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I think there will be a trial. To most hardcore left-wingers, Delay is exactly what is wrong with politics. I see this one getting ugly.
10-03-2005 12:23 PM
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rickheel Offline
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Ronnie is what is wrong with politics.......

Newly impaneled grand jury returned money-laundering charge within hours
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MORE ON THIS STORY





* Past coverage and related documents

By Laylan Copelin

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Travis County grand jury last week refused to indict former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as prosecutors raced to salvage their felony case against the Sugar Land Republican.

In a written statement Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle acknowledged that prosecutors presented their case to three grand juries — not just the two they had discussed — and one grand jury refused to indict DeLay. When questions arose about whether the state's conspiracy statute applied to the first indictment returned last Wednesday, prosecutors presented a new money-laundering charge to second grand jury on Friday because the term of the initial grand jury had expired.

Working on its last day Friday, the second grand jury refused to indict DeLay. Normally, a "no-bill" document is available at the courthouse after such a decision. No such document was released Tuesday.

Earle's statement on Tuesday said he took money-laundering and conspiracy charges to a third grand jury on Monday after prosecutors learned of new evidence over the weekend.

Lawyers for DeLay immediately called foul after Earle released his statement after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"What could have happened over the weekend?" said Austin lawyer Bill White, who represents DeLay. "They investigate for three years and suddenly they have new evidence? That's beyond the pale!"

White suggested that Earle released his statement Tuesday because he feared reporters would learn about the no-bill.

In his statement, Earle said he would have no further comment because grand jury proceedings are secret.

DeLay's legal team, led by Houston lawyer Dick DeGuerin, has been taking to the airwaves to portray Earle as an incompetent prosecutor who is pursuing DeLay only as a political vendetta.

"It just gets worse and worse," DeGuerin said. "He's gone to three grand juries over four days. Where does it stop?"

The first grand jury, impaneled by state District Judge Mike Lynch, a Democrat, had spent six months hearing evidence that Republican groups had violated a state ban against spending corporate money in the 2002 campaigns, including the exchange of $190,000 of corporate money for the same amount of campaign donations from the Republican National Committee.

The grand jury indicted DeLay on charges of conspiring to violate the state election laws, a state-jail felony. As DeLay's lawyers waited to raise an issue whether the conspiracy law applied to the election code, prosecutors apparently learned of the issue.

According to Earle's Tuesday statement, prosecutors presented "some evidence" to a second grand jury impaneled by District Judge Julie Kocurek, a Republican, "out of an abundance of caution."

It's unclear whether those grand jurors refused to indict DeLay on money-laundering charges, a first-degree felony, because of the evidence or because it was given to them on the last day of their 90-day term.

Earle did not say in his statement what new evidence surfaced over the weekend. White, who said he doubts the evidence exists, challenged Earle to reveal it. Prosecutors also called Lynch's grand jurors over the weekend to poll them on how they would have voted on money-laundering charges if they had been given the chance.

Then prosecutors tried again Monday with a new grand jury.

When Monday's grand jury, impaneled by District Judge Brenda Kennedy, a Democrat, reported for its first day, Earle was there to ask them to indict the second most powerful Texan in Washington.

About four hours later, the new felony indictments were returned.

DeGuerin said he assumes Earle persuaded the third grand jury to act by telling them about the telephone poll of the grand jurors who had spent six months on the case.

"That's outrageous," DeGuerin said. "That's criminal."
10-05-2005 02:37 PM
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OptimisticOwl Offline
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Post: #6
 
That one GJ did not indict is, to my mind, huge. Generally, Grand Juries will follow the lead of the DA and return any indictments (s)he wants.
10-06-2005 03:14 AM
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RiceDoc Offline
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Very true. We used to say in law school that an average DA could indict a grapefruit!
10-07-2005 10:05 PM
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lauramac Offline
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RiceDoc Wrote:Very true. We used to say in law school that an average DA could indict a grapefruit!
Hence the endemic distrust of the American judicial system among grapefruit. 03-razz
10-08-2005 10:35 AM
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OptimisticOwl Offline
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RiceDoc Wrote:Very true. We used to say in law school that an average DA could indict a grapefruit!
And then offer the grapefruit a plea bargin so he can maintain his 99.5% conviction rate.
10-08-2005 04:25 PM
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gmaniac1 Offline
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Post: #10
 
I hope it does go to trial so that liberal *** of a DA gets embarrassed, again. Tom Delay is not what's wrong with politics, he's what's beating the Democrats, over and over again. The right knew that the left would try tactics like these but the left doesn't have a monopoly over the media anymore so they are looking like fools, again.
10-11-2005 09:38 PM
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