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FCPA Blog Daily News

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Storm Damage

Bloomberg's David Glovin has written of the terrible harm caused to corporate executives indicted on federal criminal charges and the scars left on those whose cases are later dropped.

The numbers are surprising. From 2006 to 2008, Glovin says, U.S. prosecutors dismissed charges against 42 such defendants -- more than twice the 20 dismissals in the prior three years, according to the Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center.

Glovin covered the FCPA-related prosecutions in U.S. v. Kozeny. One defendant indicted, then dropped from the case, was David Pinkerton of AIG. Glovin writes:

Pinkerton had just left his 8- year-old twins at his in-laws’ home in Morristown, New Jersey, when he learned he was no longer a suspected felon.
Pinkerton’s lawyer called to say that the U.S. prosecutors who had charged the former American International Group Inc. managing director with bribery -- which could have led to a decade in prison -- had dropped the case. . . .

The relief was so great that day in July 2008 that the 6- foot-2-inch-tall (1.88-meter-tall) executive, who had fought the stress of the 31-month-long ordeal with intense gym workouts, broke down and cried.

We've said before that the power of prosecutors to wield the sword of Caesar is a heavy burden. Used correctly, it enforces the rule of law for the good of the many. Use wrongly, it destroys innocent people -- not just the accused, but their families, employees and others, and the damage is permanent.

Pinkerton said: “Somebody made an allegation that I did something improper, and everything got thrown under the bus. One day, 100 people around the world want to talk to you. The next, your BlackBerry goes silent and you have three friends."

He was lucky to still have three friends.

David Glovin's article can be found here.

* * *

The whirlwind. From our porch last evening, we watched and listened as the storm blew through our corner of central Virginia. The wind whistled and trees bent and creaked, but only a bit and for just a few minutes. Then it rained lightly for a half hour. We went to bed thinking nothing more about the little storm.

But this morning, when we drove the fifteen miles to Charlottesville proper, it was another story. Trees down everywhere, power lines dangling, and roads impassible. We climbed over the limbs to reach our downtown workspace but the power was out. So we went home.

We like to think we're in control of things. But that's never really true on the grander scale of events.

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